The Spanish government fears that three Spanish aid workers kidnapped this week in Mauritania were taken by Al-Qaeda’s North African group.
The three were taken by masked gunmen from their vehicle as it was driving in a caravan to deliver aid for the group Barcelona-Acciò Solidaria en Mauritania. They were riding in the last vehicle and were apparently stopped when the gunmen fired some shots. There is no information about whether anyone was injured. The caravan was driving on a road between the capital Nouakchott to the city of Nouadhibou, shown here.
While no group has claimed responsibility, the Spanish government suspects Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb, which recently kidnapped a French aid worker in Mali. In Mauritania they claimed responsibility for killing an American teacher in June. The spate of attacks and kidnappings are making travel in several Saharan nations increasingly dangerous.
Timbuktu and northern Mali have long been attractive to adventure travelers, but now the United Kingdom is warning Westerners not to go there for fear of terror attacks.
The travel advisory, which you can read here, states that the provinces north of the River Niger, including Timbuktu, are the operating grounds for the terror group Al Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Magreb. On January 22 of this year they kidnapped a group of Western tourists near the Mali-Niger border and later murdered a British national. The advisory also warns that two popular festivals, The Festival in the Desert and Sahara Nights, are in the danger zone and should be avoided.
This is such a shame, as Timbuktu, shown here, is a World Heritage Site and the Festival in the Desert is one of Africa’s best music gatherings. Mali is a poor nation and people need the hard currency that tourism brings. It seems that once again the actions of a few criminals are ruining it for the decent folk.
Have you been to Mali? Did you feel safe? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section.