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France, Mali joins forces to find aid worker

A street in Gao in the north of Mali
A street in Gao in the north of Mali REUTERS/Souleymane Ag Anara

French and Malian security forces have teamed up with local religious leaders in the northern Malian city of Gao to search for a popular 67-year-old French aid worker who was abducted by armed men on Saturday.

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The abduction of Sophie Pétronin, a nutritionist who looks after malnourished children, was confirmed on Sunday by France’s foreign ministry, which added that French and Malian authorities were working together "to find and free our compatriot as quickly as possible".

"French soldiers of the Barkhane force (in Mali) are actively taking part in the search alongside the Malians," a French military source told news agencies.

Petronin, who is in her sixties, is the director of a Gao-based NGO that aids children suffering from malnutrition.

According to French media, she is a doctor specialising in nutrition and tropical diseases and had escaped an earlier kidnapping by Islamists in 2012.
 

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