DAKAR (Reuters) – A French journalist kidnapped by Islamist militants in the northern Mali city of Gao appeared last month in a video calling on French authorities to do everything possible to free him. “I am Olivier Dubois. I am French. I am a journalist. I was kidnapped in Gao on April 8 by JNIM (Al Qaeda North Africa).” I am speaking with my family, my friends and the French authorities to do everything possible to free me, “Dubois said in a 21-second video shared on social media. Reuters could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the clip. A source from the French Foreign Ministry confirmed the disappearance of the journalist and said that the ministry was in contact with his family and was carrying out technical checks on the authenticity of the video. The Malian authorities were not immediately available for comment. Dubois is the first French national to be held hostage by jihadist militants in Mali since French humanitarian worker Sophie Petronin was freed in October last year. She had been kidnapped near Gao in late 2016. Dozens of Islamist insurgents were freed in an exchange deal prisoners who freed Petronin, a prominent Malian politician and two Italians. Fr Elder has repeatedly denied paying ransoms directly for hostages in the past. The director of Reporters Without Borders said on Twitter that the media freedom organization had learned of Dubois’ disappearance two days after he failed to return to his hotel in Gao after lunch. Christophe Deloire said Dubois worked for the French magazine Le Point and the Liberation newspaper. “In consultation with the news organizations that employed him, we decided not to announce that he had been taken hostage so as not to hinder a possible quick result,” Deloire said. “We are asking the Malian and French authorities to do everything possible to obtain his release.”
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