Sudan searching for French hostage: foreign minister

2017-03-27 08:48
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Khartoum - Sudanese security agents have launched a search for an abducted Frenchman after a Chadian minister reported that he was being held in the neighbouring country, Khartoum said on Sunday.

Chadian Security Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir said on Friday that a French mining worker who was kidnapped in Chad was now in Sudan.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and the military intelligence had launched an operation to find him.

"They all are working to find the French hostage and return him to his homeland," Ghandour told the official SUNA news agency.

"Khartoum is coordinating with the French intelligence and the government of Chad... We hope to find him soon."

The man was kidnapped from an area near Goz Beida, about 200km south of the Chadian city of Abeche, the Chadian minister said on Friday without offering details.

"We are doing everything possible alongside the Chadian authorities to obtain his release," French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told AFP on Friday.

Several French and other Western nationals have been kidnapped by jihadist groups in west and central Africa in recent years.

The last such case in Chad - a former French colony - dates back to 2009, when a Frenchman working for the International Committee of the Red Cross was abducted by a shadowy armed group called the Freedom Eagles of Africa, based in Sudan's war-torn Darfur province.

He was freed after 89 days.

The only known French hostage currently being held anywhere in the world is Sophie Petronin, head of an NGO who was abducted by armed men in the northern Malian town of Gao late last year.

No group has claimed responsibility for her disappearance.

Chad is one of France's key African allies in the counter-terror fight, with the capital N'Djamena serving as headquarters for France's Operation Barkhane anti-jihadist force.

Set up in 2014, the force, which counts 4 000 troops, works in five Sahel countries - Chad, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso - to flush out al-Qaeda-linked extremists.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  sudan  |  france  |  east africa

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