Security forces free Mali official from extremists

The most senior government representative in the Tenenkou commune was abducted in the Mopti region on May 8 last year. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 February 2019
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Security forces free Mali official from extremists

  • A Malian jounalist who was kidnapped was also freed
  • A peace agreement signed in 2015 was aimed at restoring stability, but the accord has failed to stop violence by extremist militants

BAMAKO, Mali: A senior government official and a journalist abducted by suspected extremists in Mali have been freed, a security source told AFP on Tuesday.
Makan Doumbia, the prefect of Tenenkou commune in central Mali, “was freed Monday thanks to an action by state security,” the source told AFP.
Doumbia, the most senior government representative in the commune, was abducted in the Mopti region on May 8 last year.
He is now being treated in intensive care in the capital Bamako, said the source, who refused to comment on claims that Doumbia was freed under a prisoner exchange.
A son of the official, who declined to give his full name, also confirmed the prefect had been released.
“I was able to speak to my father. He is very tired. But the most important thing is that he is free. I am very happy,” said the son.
Malian journalist Issiaka Tamboura, who was kidnapped in central Mali in December, was also released and taken to hospital in Bamako, security and media sources said.
However, elsewhere in the Mopti region, four hostages taken by suspected extremists were killed at Toguere-Koumbe last week, according to Kisal, a rights group for nomadic communities.
Kisal announced on its Facebook page Monday that those killed were members of the Bozo ethnic group.
A security source confirmed that “four civilian hostages of terrorists” were found dead at Toguere at the weekend.
Extremist militias linked to Al-Qaeda seized the north of Mali in 2012, but were pushed back by French troops the following year.
A peace agreement signed in 2015 by the Bamako government and armed groups was aimed at restoring stability, but the accord has failed to stop violence by extremist militants — who have also staged attacks in neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.


Bulgaria seizes 288 kilos of heroin in truck from Iran

Updated 18 April 2019
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Bulgaria seizes 288 kilos of heroin in truck from Iran

  • Two men — the Iranian truck driver and a Turkish man, who was allegedly to receive the drugs in Bulgaria — were detained and indicted for drug trafficking

SOFIA: Bulgarian customs officials confiscated more than 288 kilo (635 pounds) of heroin hidden on a truck from Iran, prosecutors announced Thursday.

The haul is the biggest amount of heroin seized at Bulgaria’s borders this year, the customs agency said.

Two men — the Iranian truck driver and a Turkish man, who was allegedly to receive the drugs in Bulgaria — were detained and indicted for drug trafficking, the Haskovo regional prosecution said in a statement. They risk jail terms from 15 to 20 years, it added.

The drugs were placed in 144 packages hidden inside the floor and ceiling of a spray painting machine transported inside the truck.

It was found when the vehicle was X-rayed upon entering Bulgaria from Turkey at the southeastern Kapitan Andreevo border checkpoint on Sunday, but the seizure was only announced on Thursday.

Bulgaria, which lies on the so-called Balkan drugs route from the Middle East to Western Europe, has seen a several-fold increase in heroin seizures over the past three years.

In 2018, the customs agency confiscated a total of 994 kilos of heroin at the country’s borders, a rise of 13 percent from 2017.