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Mali: Swiss woman kidnapped in Timbuktu

Timbuktu residents said the abducted Swiss woman is a Christian missionary in her 40s, who had lived in the northern Malian city for years and was taken from her house by armed men.

Timbuktu rebels 9Enlarge
A resident of Timbuktu visits "The flame of Peace" monument on April 11, 2006. The monument was built in 1995 with the weapons of the Toureg rebellion. The fabled desert city of Timbuktu, located in northwestern Mali, fires the imagination of every adventurer, but an outbreak of fierce fighting in the region has raised fears tourists may snub the African treasure. (ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

A Swiss woman has been kidnapped in Timbuktu, Mali's historic desert city seized by Islamist rebels following a coup.

Switzerland on Monday confirmed the woman had been abducted, but did not identify her, Agence France-Presse reported.

Swiss authorities are in contact with her family and "were making every effort to ensure the kidnap victim is released unharmed," a statement said.

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Timbuktu residents said the kidnapped woman is a Christian missionary in her 40s named Beatrice, who had lived in the northern Malian city for years, the BBC reported. She was taken from her house by armed men.

Timbuktu, with its centuries-old mud mosques and ancient manuscripts held in the town's libraries, was until recently a tourist hotspot. Many visitors would come for a famous festival of Malian music, the Festival in the Desert, which attracted U2 frontman Bono in January.

But visitors have been deterred by tourist kidnappings by the North African branch of Al Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has links to the Islamist rebels in Mali, is reportedly already holding 13 Westerners.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/120416/swiss-woman-kidnapped-timbuktu-mali