A source in the French Foreign Ministry has confirmed the kidnapping of French journalist Olivier Dubois in Mali, adding that diplomats are "in contact" with his family, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
This comes after a video of Dubois urging the French government to do its best to release him emerged on social media on Wednesday.
"I'm Olivier Dubois. I'm French. I'm a journalist. I was kidnapped in [the northern Malian city of] Gao on 8 April by the JNIM [an al-Qaeda* branch in Mali]", Dubois is seen saying in the 21-second clip.
#Mali - French journalist Olivier Dubois kidnapped on 8 April 2021 in Gao by Nusrat al-Islam (JNIM/GSIM), linked to AQIM. The group released a 21-second video. Dubois has lived and worked in Mali since 2015. #hostage #kidnapingpic.twitter.com/FgWpwpOY3f— Rory McKittrick (@rory_mckittrick) May 5, 2021
The journalist, who had reportedly lived and worked in Mali since 2015, added that he was "speaking to his family and friends as well as French authorities" to call on them "to do everything in their power" to free him.
Reuters said that it was unable to immediately confirm the footage's authenticity, with Malian authorities yet to comment on the matter.
Christophe Deloire, the head of the international non-profit organisation Reporters Without Borders, tweeted that they had been aware of Dubois' disappearance two days after he did not return to his hotel in Gao after lunch.
"In consultation with the news organisations that employed him, we decided not to announce that he had been taken hostage so as not to hinder a rapid possible outcome. We are asking Malian and French authorities to do everything possible to obtain his release", Deloire said.
Dubois is the first French national to be kidnapped in Mali since 2016, when French aid worker Sophie Petronin was abducted near Gao in late 2016. She was released in 2020.
Last year, France deployed more than 5,000 soldiers to western Africa, where several countries, including Mali, that were once colonies of Paris have become embroiled in an irregular war against terrorist groups including al-Qaeda and Daesh*, which have both established franchise groups in the region.
*al-Qaeda, Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/Islamic State), terrorists groups, banned in Russia and many other countries.