The Norman Transcript

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November 3, 2013

Officials: 2 French journalists killed in Mali

DAKAR, Senegal — Gunmen abducted and killed two French radio journalists on assignment in northern Mali on Saturday, French and Malian officials said, grabbing the pair as they left the home of a rebel leader.

The deaths come four days after France rejoiced at the release of four of its citizens who had been held for three years by al-Qaida’s affiliate in North Africa.

It was not immediately clear who had slain the French journalists. France launched a military intervention in January in its former colony to try and oust the jihadists from power in Kidal and other towns across northern Mali. Separatist rebels have since returned to the area.

French President Francois Hollande expressed his “indignation at this odious act.”

Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont were grabbed by several armed men in a 4x4 after they finished an interview, officials said.

Their bodies were later dumped a dozen kilometers (miles) outside the town on the road leading to Tinessako, a community to the east of Kidal, according to a person who saw the bodies and four officials briefed on the matter.

Earlier Saturday, radio station RFI confirmed the kidnappings on its website, saying Dupont, 51, and Verlon, 58, were taken at 1 p.m. by armed men in Kidal and had not been heard from since.

“From the information I have, their throats were cut. We don’t know for sure who took them, but the reports we are hearing indicate that they were Islamists,” said Lassana Camara, the deputy prefect of Tinessako, who added that an investigation was underway.

Several Kidal officials interviewed by telephone said that the RFI journalists were abducted after an interview at the house of Ambeiry Ag Rhissa, the acting head of the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, or NMLA, a Tuareg separatist movement whose rebels invaded northern Mali last year. Those rebels were later chased out by al-Qaida’s fighters in the region but have returned to prominence in Kidal in recent months.

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