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Kidnapped Swiss woman abducted in Mali

Mali is also the focus of a UN peacekeeping mission - its most dangerous - dealing with jihadist fighters, bandits and smugglers 

(Reuters)

The Swiss authorities have confirmed that a Swiss women has been kidnapped in Mali. Reports suggest that the woman, reportedly a Christian missionary, had been abducted by gunmen. 

The Swiss foreign ministry in Bern said on Friday evening that it was aware of the kidnapping.

"The Swiss citizen is the person who was once before kidnapped in Mali in the spring of 2012," a foreign ministry statementexternal link said.

It added that it was in contact with the woman's relatives and that the foreign ministry's representative in Bamako was in contact with the local authorities in charge of this abduction case.

A taskforce has been created by the ministry's Crisis Management Centre (KMZ), which handles crises and emergencies affecting Swiss nationals abroad. The statement added that all the relevant Swiss authorities were working to achieve "the release of the Swiss citizen in good health".

It is unclear who carried out the abduction, however; no group has claimed responsibility. 

A Mali government official told the AFP news agency that gunmen had kidnapped a Swiss citizen in her home in Timbuktu. 

A Malian security source told the agency armed men had gone to her home on Thursday night, "knocked on the door, she opened, and they left with her." 

In 2012, Islamist fighters in northern Mali kidnapped Beatrice Stöckli, a Swiss woman working as a missionary in Timbuktu, and released her days later. A resident of Timbuktu who knows Stockly told Reuters it was she who was kidnapped overnight. 

Travel advice

French forces drove Islamist fighters from major urban centres in 2013 but the fighters remain active in the West African country and have recently intensified their insurgency. 

France continues to fight militants in Mali and elsewhere in the desert band known as the Sahel with a 3,500-strong counterterrorism force called Barkhane. There is also a United Nations peacekeeping mission.

The Swiss foreign ministry statement added that it had advised its citizens since December 1, 2009 not to travel to Mali because of risk of abduction. "After the kidnapping of 2012, the ministry had pointed out to the affected Swiss national the high personal risk in Mali ... and strongly discouraged her from another stay in Mali," it said.

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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