Abducted French national is 'in Sudan': Chad minister

2017-03-24 18:31


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Paris - A French national abducted from southeastern Chad is in neighbouring Sudan, a Chadian minister told AFP on Friday.

Security Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir said the hostage had been located "in Sudan" but did not give further details, saying only that "mixed Chadian and Sudanese forces" were looking for him.

Late on Thursday, the minister had told AFP the French civilian, who works for a mining company, had been kidnapped from an area near Goz Beida, which lies about 200km south of the city of Abeche.

French officials said they were making every effort to find him.

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

And Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it showed the situation "remains unstable" in the Sahel region, which includes Sudan and Chad.

"We are taking the same steps with this hostage that we have done with others. We are following it very closely," he told the CNews channel.

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  |  burkina faso  |  niger  |  mali  |  chad  |  mauritania  |  west africa

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