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Deadly attack

November 26, 2011

Officials in Mali say gunmen have kidnapped three Western tourists and killed a fourth in the northern town of Timbuktu. It's the second hostage-taking in the region in two days.

A tourist and guide in North Africa
Parts of North Africa are increasingly unsafe for touristsImage: dpa

Officials in Mali say gunmen have seized three western tourists and killed one in the historic, northern town of Timbuktu.

News agency AFP, citing local sources, said the victim was a German national. He was reportedly killed after he tried to resist his abductors who tried to force the tourists into four-wheel drives.

Reports said two of those taken hostage were Dutch and one South African, though there has been no official confirmation of their nationalities.

A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry said they were investigating the reports.

"We are following up clues that a German was among those involved with the utmost urgency," the spokesman said.

Kidnappings on the rise

The attack was reportedly carried out in Timbuktu's central square on Friday afternoon.

A US soldier training Malian soldiers in anti-terror operations
Mali's government has been fighting Islamic militants in the region

The Malian government condemned the "terror act," which it said undermined the security and stability of the entire country.

On Thursday, two French nationals were kidnapped from their hotel in the same remote desert region, where local agents for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb operate.

But there has been no claim of responsibility for either kidnapping.

In recent years, kidnappings of Westerners, either by Islamists or by local gunmen cooperating with them, have increased in large areas of Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

Western nations led by France and the United States are trying to improve regional cooperation, but their efforts have been undermined by a lack of resources and regional rivalries.

Author: Richard Connor (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Sonia Phalnikar