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French journalist kidnapped in northern Mali appears in video

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DAKAR (Reuters) -A French journalist kidnapped by Islamist militants in Mali’s northern city of Gao last month has appeared in a video appealing to French authorities to do everything they can to free him.

“I’m Olivier Dubois. I’m French. I’m a journalist. I was kidnapped in Gao on April 8 by the JNIM (al Qaeda North Africa).

“I’m speaking to my family, my friends and the French authorities for them to do everything in their power to free me,” Dubois said in a 21-second video shared on social media.

Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the clip’s authenticity.

A French Foreign Ministry source confirmed the disappearance of the journalist and said the ministry was in contact with his family and carrying out technical checks on the authenticity of the video.

Malian authorities were not immediately available for comment.

Dubois is the first French national to be taken hostage by jihadist militants in Mali since French aid worker Sophie Petronin was freed in October last year. She had been abducted near Gao in late 2016.

Scores of Islamist insurgents were released in a prisoner swap deal that liberated Petronin, a senior Malian politician and two Italian.

France has repeatedly denied paying ransoms directly for hostages in the past.

The head of Reporters Without Borders said on Twitter that the media freedom organisation had been aware of Dubois’s disappearance two days after he did not return to his hotel in Gao after lunch.

Christophe Deloire said Dubois worked for France’s Le Point magazine and Liberation newspaper.

“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,” Deloire said.

“We are asking Malian and French authorities to do everything possible to obtain his release.”

(Reporting by John Irish and Bate Felix; Editing by John Stonestreet and Catherine Evans)

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