Kidnapped Mali opposition staff released


Five people kidnapped last week with Mali opposition leader Soumaila Cisse were freed overnight, but Cisse and three others are still missing, his party said.

Cisse and a delegation were ambushed by unidentified gunmen on March 25 as he campaigned ahead of parliamentary elections in the northern region of Timbuktu.

His bodyguard was killed in the attack and two others were wounded, his party, the Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD), said.

In a statement on Friday, the URD said five people freed included Cisse’s assistant and his driver.

“The URD hopes to quickly find its president, the honourable Soumaila Cisse, and the three remaining members of his delegation,” it said.

No one claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but the region where it took place is targeted by Islamist militants with links to al Qaeda.

Mali’s government and the UN peacekeeping mission in the country are working to secure Cisse’s release.

Cisse (70) lost elections in 2013 and 2018 to President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. He was campaigning for a parliament seat in long-delayed elections that went ahead on Sunday despite persistent insecurity and the coronavirus epidemic.

The electoral commission said Cisse retained his seat in the first round of voting.