Taken hostage in Africa’s Sahel region
Below is a breakdown of European hostages who are still being held by armed groups in Africa’s Sahel region, after French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday four French hostages who were kidnapped by Al-Qaeda have been released.
The released hostages were working in Arlit, north-central Niger, for French nuclear giant Areva when they were kidnapped by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in September 2010.
Five Europeans — two French nationals, a Swede, a Dutchman and a Briton with South African nationality — are still in the hands of AQIM while another Frenchman is being held by a group linked to insurgents Boko Haram.
– November 24, 2011: On the night of November 24, 2011, Frenchmen Serge Lazarevic and Philippe Verdon are kidnapped from their hotel in Hombori in northeastern Mali, where they were on a business trip, according to their families.
On March 19, 2013 AQIM announces that it has killed Verdon, a statement confirmed by Hollande on July 15.
– On November 20, 2012, Gilberto Rodriguez Leal, a 61-year-old Portuguese-born French citizen, is abducted by at least six armed men in Diema, western Mali, as he travels by car from Mauritania. On November 22, Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist rebel group the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) claims responsibility.
– November 25, 2011: In an attack on Timbuktu, AQIM militants seize three Europeans – a Swede, a Dutch national and a Briton who also has South African citizenship — and kill a fourth, a German. AQIM claims responsibility for the abductions and publishes photographs of the hostages on December 9.
On August 21, 2012 the three appear in a video on Al-Jazeera television, which identifies them as Stephen Malcolm (British and South African), Johan Gustafson (Swedish) and Sjaak Rijke (Dutch).
– In addition, in Nigeria, a French national, 63-year-old Francis Collomp, an engineer with the French firm Vergnet, is kidnapped on December 19, 2012. Ansaru, which is linked to Islamist group Boko Haram, claims responsibility.
Source: Global Post