Mali to boost tourist security

2011-12-07 21:54

Bamako - The Malian government said on Wednesday it is taking measures to boost security at tourist sites and roads after a spate of kidnappings and the murder of a foreigner in the north of the country.

"The security plan that Mali has been working on in recent months has just been validated by a national defence committee chaired by the president," Amadou Toumani Toure, said Tourism Minister Mohamed el Moctar.

He was speaking to journalists after a meeting of the committee to examine security of tourist sites and Mali's roads.

A defence ministry statement said the meeting examined the reinforcement of armed forces and security, the role of tourism operators and the need for collaboration between paramilitary forces and armed forces.

Toure "gave firm instructions for the correct application of the measures taken to better secure Mali's tourist sites and roads".

On November 24, two French nationals described as a geologist and an engineer were taken from their hotel in Hombori in the north, leading France to advise all tourists against travel to the area.

A day later an armed gang snatched a Swede, a Dutchman and a man with dual British-South African nationality from a restaurant on Timbuktu's central square and killed a German with them who tried to resist, officials said.

The ancient trading city of Timbuktu is a Unesco world heritage site and one of Mali's main tourist attractions.

Nothing is known about the kidnappers but investigators suspect they are either members of or close to AQIM which has held four Frenchmen since 2010 and intensified its activities in Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Algeria.