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Page last updated at 19:23 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009

Gunmen seize French national in northern Mali

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A French national has been kidnapped in the north-eastern Mali town of Menaka by gunmen, officials say.

Pierre Camatte, 61, was said to have been taken from outside his hotel on Wednesday.

The UK recently warned its nationals not to visit northern Mali because of the threat of attack by the North African branch of al-Qaeda.

The group has seized several Westerners for ransom in recent months - sometimes kidnapping them in foreign countries.

Mr Camatte was reportedly conducting research into malaria when he was seized.

Vigilance

In a statement, the French foreign ministry warned its citizens of the risk of kidnapping in the region and urged those travelling outside of the capital Bamako to be "extra vigilant".

French embassy staff are working towards the release of Mr Camatte.

The president of a town-twinning friendship organisation, he is reported to split his time between Mali and France.

In June British tourist Edwin Dyer was killed in Mali by militants. He had been kidnapped in Niger six months earlier close to the border with Mali.

Last month the US said it was preparing to give Mali's army millions of dollars worth of military hardware to help them fight al-Qaeda's North African branch.



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