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Africa

Canadian diplomats' driver is released

Latest update : 2009-03-21

A driver kidnapped along with two Canadian diplomats in Niger last year has been released in Mali, according to a Malian defence ministry official. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb last month claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

AFP - The driver of two Canadian diplomats who were kidnapped by extremists in Niger last year was freed in neighbouring Mali, the Malian defence ministry announced.
   
"Soumana Moukaila, the driver of the two Canadian diplomats, who had been kidnapped at the same time, was freed on Malian territory," a defence ministry official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
   
"He is fine," he added without giving details.
   
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb last month claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of four tourists and also for the two Canadian diplomats, including the UN-envoy to Niger, and their driver taken in December.
   
The four tourists, a Swiss couple, a German woman and a British man, were grabbed in the border zone between Mali and Niger on January 22 as they were returning from a Tuareg cultural festival.
   
The two Canadians, the UN secretary general's special envoy for Niger Robert Fowler, and his colleague Louis Gay, went missing outside Niamey in mid-December along with their driver when returning from a visit to a gold mine operated by a Canadian company, Semafo.
   
A Malian source said last month a second video of the Canadian diplomats and their driver, who is from Niger, had been passed on to Canadian and Malian authorities.
   
The source, who previously revealed the existence of the first video, said he had viewed the tape in which Fowler was seen speaking French.
   
Moukaila's family had also seen the tape, he added.
   
A security source in Bamako said on Friday that at least two suspects in the kidnapping of the four Europeans in Niger had been arrested in Mali.
   
A second independent source in northern Mali said a total of four people had been arrested in connection with that kidnapping.
   
On Friday the kidnappers issued new demands for Islamic militants arrested in Europe to be freed in exchange for liberating the hostages, another source said.
 

Date created : 2009-03-21

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