Issiaka Tamboura, Editor of the Soft newspaper, has been released after more than 30 days in the custody of a militant group in Mali.
Issiaka was released unhurt on February 18, 2019 after he was kidnapped by a suspected terrorist group on December 27, 2018.
“Our colleague has returned to Bamako safely,” the Committee set up by government to follow up on the journalist’s abduction said in a statement on February 19, 2019.
The Committee did not mention whether the journalist was released voluntarily or after some intervention.
Issiaka was released alongside Makan Doumbia, the prefect of Tenenkou, who was also kidnapped by the terrorist group on May 8 in the Mopti region.
The journalist was abducted while he was driving back to Bamako after attending a funeral in his native village. A search party found his car near a hill in between Boni and Nokara localities.
Issaka’s newspaper has a reputation for publishing extensively on the abuses committed by these terrorist groups in the Mopti area in central Mali. According to a source close to the Issiaka’s family, he bore a press card which identified him as a journalist and so he must have been kidnapped because of his work.
The northern and central regions of the desert country is a hotbed of militant activities and foreign journalists especially are often harassed. Ghislaine Dupon and Claude Verlon, two journalists of Radio France International, were abducted and subsequently executed in November 2013 by terrorist groups in Kidal, in northern Mali.
A local journalist, Bouraima Toure of the biweekly Sphinx, has been missing since January 2016, and is feared to have been abducted by a terrorist group.
The release of Issiaka, therefore, comes as a great relief to the media fraternity in Mali.
The MFWA commends all the stakeholders who played various roles in the search for the journalist and his eventual release. We urge media professionals in Mali to take the necessary precautions when they find themselves in the terrorists’ stronghold.