French citizen kidnapped in southwest Mali

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PARIS — A French citizen has been kidnapped in southwest Mali, far from the zone controlled by al-Qaida-linked militants where African countries are preparing a possible military intervention, officials said today.

The kidnapping brings to seven the number of French citizens being held in the west African nation that is effectively divided in two, with radical Islamists and native Touareg rebels in control of the north.

Northern Mali fell to Islamist extremists in April, after coup leaders toppled the government in Bamako, Mali’s capital.

France, a former colonial power in West Africa that still has a military presence in the region, fears that northern Mali could become a new base for a jihad, destabilizing Africa’s Sahel region and ultimately threatening Europe.

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