Three Italians and a Togolese were abducted on the evening of Thursday, May 19, near Koutiala, in southern Mali, not far from the border with Burkina Faso. There are very few details at this stage about this abduction, which have not been asserted.
According to local sources, the four people were abducted on Thursday evening, May 19, by armed men in the town of Sincina, about ten kilometers from Koutiala. Information confirmed to RFI by an elected representative and a gendarm in the area.
On the Italian side, it would be a man in his fifties, a Jehovah’s Witness named Zenke Coulibaly, and his two parents at least 70 years old. This information has been communicated to RFI by a Malian Jehovah’s Witness near them. There is still no information, at the moment, about the Togolese people who were kidnapped with them. The abduction has not been claimed.
The Italian embassy is mobilized, but did not want to make a statement. In Rome, the Foreign Ministry simply stated that it was carrying out “the usual checks”. Togo’s diplomatic mission in Bamako has no further information.
The Koutiala and Sikasso regions, on the Burkinabè border, are not the epicenter of jihadist activity. But sometimes attacks are carried out there, against posts from the Malian army for example. A Colombian nun was kidnapped in 2017 near Sikasso by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (Gsim), linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Sister Gloria Argoti had been released in October 2021after more than four years in captivity.