Mali tightens security after abductions
Bamako - Mali has tightened security in its cities including the capital Bamako after last week's abduction of five Westerners and the killing of sixth, the west African nation's security minister said on Wednesday.
In two separate incidents in northern Mali, two Frenchmen were kidnapped from a hotel while a South African, a Dutchman, and a Swede were abducted in the historic trading town of Timbuktu.
A German citizen was killed after resisting in the second attack.
"We have to reinforce security because what happened in Timbuktu was a wake-up call," Sadio Gassama said in a statement.
Mali has been criticised by neighbours and Western partners for not doing enough to tackle bandits, local al-Qaeda agents and other groups operating in the vast Sahel region straddling Niger, Mauritania, Algeria and Mali.
The countries are struggling to contain the growing threat by Islamist militants operating across West Africa's remote desert regions.
Though it was still not clear who was responsible for the kidnappings, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which operates in the region, has in the past claimed responsibility for similar abductions.
The minister said that police and Mali's national guard will carry out rigorous checks on all vehicles entering and leaving the Bamako district. Security officials will also be posted at all hotels, he said.