Photo: Mali, Africa
Salafist militant group Ansar al Din, a group affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, told Efe Saturday that it abducted a Spanish citizen in northern Mali earlier this week before freeing him 24 hours later.
In a statement to Efe, a spokesman for Ansar Al Din, Sanda Uld Bumana, said that the Spaniard, whose identity was not revealed, was seized Thursday outside the northern Mali town of Niafounke and remained a captive of the Salafist group for 24 hours, after which he was released safe and sound.
Uld Bumana said that the Spaniard was “redirected” to the city of Mopti, controlled by Mali authorities, who since April have been fighting Ansar al Din and other Salafist militant groups that, in union with Tuareg rebels, declared the Independent State of Azawad, an area of some 850,000 sq. kilometers (325,000 sq. miles) in northern Mali.
According to the Ansar Al Din spokesman, the Spanish citizen was boating down the Niger River when he was intercepted by several militants of that group.
Uld Bumana stressed the dangers of the area where the Spaniard was kidnapped and warned against any “recklessness.”
Since April, when the State of Azawad was proclaimed - it is not recognized by the international community - the area has been controlled by a number of armed Salafist organizations including Ansar Al Din, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and the Movement for Monotheism and Jihad in East Africa, groups that have claimed responsibility for several kidnappings of citizens from western nations.