Missing German missionary in Mali’s Bamako feared to be kidnapped

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A German missionary who went missing in Mali’s capital Bamako on Sunday is feared to have been kidnapped, the city’s archbishop said.

Father Hans Joachim Lohre of the “Missionaries of Africa” or “White Fathers” institute was reported missing to the police on Sunday evening.

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The Catholic priest was meant to celebrate mass on Sunday morning. His colleagues noticed that his car remained parked in front of his house the whole day and that his telephone was switched off.

“This prolonged absence made them suspect a kidnapping and prompted them to contact the police,” Archbishop of Bamako Jean Cardinal Zerbo said in a statement on Tuesday. “We still do not have any news,” he added.

Neither Malian authorities nor the German embassy have responded to calls.

Lohre arrived in Mali around 30 years ago and is national secretary of the country’s inter-religious dialogue commission. He teaches at an Islamic-Christian institute and runs a faith center in Bamako.

Kidnappings are not uncommon in Mali, a West African nation south of the Sahel where extremist militants have waged a violent insurgency over the past decade.

Groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIS extremist group have gained territory in recent years, spreading south from their strongholds in the north and center and moving into neighboring states.

Armed men kidnapped an Italian couple and their son in southern Mali in May. Media outlets reported that a Togolese national was also kidnapped.

Extremist militants are still holding French journalist Olivier Dubois, taken hostage in April 2021 by al-Qaeda’s Sahel branch JNIM.

But abductions of foreigners have generally declined in the Sahel as deteriorating security has deterred travel to high-risk areas.

Bamako is usually considered relatively safe compared to other parts of the country.

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