French national kidnapped in Mali

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PARIS (AFP) – President Francois Hollande confirmed Wednesday that a French national had been kidnapped in western Mali and vowed that everything would be done to find him.

“We will do everything we can to find our citizen,” Hollande said.

The kidnapping takes to seven the number of French hostages being held in Mali. The other six are all thought to be in the custody of the north African branch of Al-Qaeda, AQIM.

A Malian security source had earlier identified the latest kidnapping victim as Jules Berto Rodriguez Leal, a 61-year-old Portuguese-born French citizen.

He was abducted by several armed men on Tuesday evening in Diema, western Mali.

France has played the leading role in pushing west African countries into the creation of a military force capable of intervening in Mali and reclaiming control of the north of the country from AQIM and other Islamist groups.

Hollande implied the latest abduction could be linked to the planning for military action.

“Taking hostages is a way of applying pressure but it will not influence our decisions,” he said, adding that French citizens should not travel to Mali until further notice.

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