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Mali - France

French aid worker kidnapped Mali

A search is underway for a French aid worker kidnapped in Gao, in Mali's troubled north
A search is underway for a French aid worker kidnapped in Gao, in Mali's troubled north Pascal Guyot / AFP
2 min

A French woman who runs an organisation for malnourished children has been kidnapped in Mali's troubled north.


French troops joined in the search for Sophie Petronin, who was abducted in the city of Gao on Saturday according to France’s foreign ministry.

French and Malian authorities were working together the ministry said, "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.

Rebels in the north

Northern Mali fell into the hands of jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda in early 2012, backed briefly by Tuareg-led rebels.

Islamist fighters have since been driven out of key towns by a French-led military intervention which began the following year. But large tracts of Mali are still not controlled by domestic or foreign troops.

Despite a peace pact signed last year, following lengthy talks between the government, it supporters and the Tuareg rebels, attacks on security forces and other violence and unrest continues.

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