Authorities must end deafening silence about two journalists abducted in northern Mali

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the Malian authorities’ silence about the abduction of two community radio journalists a month ago in the north of the country and urges them to do everything possible to obtain their release.


Saleck Ag Jiddou, the director of Coton, a community radio station in Ansongo, a small town in northern Mali’s Gao region, and Moustapha Koné, a Coton presenter, were abducted by members of an unidentified armed group while driving to the city of Gao on 7 November with two other journalists.

 One of their two colleagues, Naata community radio reporter Abdoul Aziz Djibrilla, was killed when the gunmen opened fire on their car while the other, Harouna Attino, a journalist with Alafia, another Ansongo-based community radio station, was wounded.

 In the past few weeks, the ransom that the families are being asked to pay for each journalist has risen from 3 million CFA francs (about 4,500 euros) to 4 million CFA francs (about 6,000 euros), RSF’s sources say. They also report that the kidnappers are said to have moved the journalists for fear of being located by soldiers who patrol the area.

 Meanwhile, the Malian authorities have yet to make any public statement about the abduction although it took place a month ago.

This attack and the hostage-taking show the extent to which journalists are threatened by armed gangs in the deteriorated security environment in northern Mali and throughout the Sahel. The continuing silence of the Malian authorities and regional bodies a month after the abduction of these two local news professionals is very worrying. We call on the authorities to take charge of this matter and to do everything possible to recover Saleck Ag Jiddou and Moustapha Koné safe and sound. Once again, it is the right to information that is being assailed and undermined in this region.

Sadibou Marong
Director of RSF’s sub-Saharan Africa desk

Born in 1980 in Ansongo, a rural town 90 km southeast of Gao, Jiddou is regarded there as both a “technician and a man of a vast culture.” He joined Ansongo-base radio Coton in 2013 and has been its director since 2019, still presenting news bulletins in French and national languages and hosting shows targeted at a broad public about various aspects of life in the community. Aged 45, Koné joined Coton a year ago and hosts news programmes.

 Both Jiddou and Koné are portrayed as being very committed to their work for Coton, which – like other community radio stations in these areas – offer quality programmes aimed at meeting their listeners’ needs for news, education and development information, as well as entertainment.

 But the security of these radio station presenters and reporters has been under threat from armed groups for the past ten years, as RSF described in a report entitled “What It’s Like to Be a Journalist in the Sahel” that was published last April.

 The abduction of Jiddou and Koné brings to four the number of community radio journalists held hostage in Mali. Hamadoun Nialibouly was kidnapped in Somadougou, in the central Mopti region, on 27 September 2020, while Moussa M’Bana Dicko was kidnapped in Boni, in the centre-east of the country, on 18 April 2021.

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