A tragic attack on a group of journalists in northern Mali has resulted in the death of a radio host, the wounding of one person and the abduction of two journalists.
On November 7, 2023, at approximately 7 a.m., unidentified gunmen attacked a vehicle carrying four radio presenters and a journalist on the Ansongo-Gao route in northern Mali. Regrettably, this violent ambush led to the death of Mr. Abdoul Aziz Djibrilla from Radio Naata in Labbezanga, a locality on the border with Niger.
The victims also include Harouna Attini, host of Radio Alafia in Ansongo, who sustained injuries, Saleck Ag Jiddou, director of Radio Coton in Ansongo, and his host Moustaph Koné, who are currently missing. According to a radio station manager, Mr. Saleck Ag Jiddou showed signs of life a few hours after the kidnapping. The kidnappers allegedly demanded a ransom of six million CFA francs (approximately US$8,850) for their release.
The Gao region, situated 1,500 km from the Malian capital, faces numerous security threats, including the activities of radical groups, increasing crime, banditry, and community conflicts. The situation has further deteriorated due to the proliferation of armed groups and the rise of violent extremism.
Mali is among the most dangerous places in the world to practice journalism as a result of extremist violence and the long-running counter-terror operations. Armed attacks and kidnappings are common. On November 2, 2013, two French journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon were abducted and later killed by terrorists in Northern Mali. On April 8, 2021, another French journalist Olivier Dubois was abducted in Gao by GSIM (Groupe de soutien à l’Islam et aux musulmans), a local branch of Al Qaïda. A local journalist, Birama Touré of Le Sphinx newspaper, went missing in Bamako on January 29, 2016, and has since not been heard from or seen.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) stands in solidarity with journalists in Mali who continue to carry out their profession under increasingly difficult circumstances. We deplore the fatal attack on the convoy of journalists and urge the authorities to track down the attackers to face the law. We express our deepest condolence to the family of the affected journalists and wish the injured a speedy recovery to resume their critical work of informing the public and defending the rights of the people.