Missing German missionary in Mali feared to be kidnapped
BAMAKO (Reuters) – 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.
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 centre in Bamako.
Kidnappings are not uncommon in Mali, a West African nation south of the Sahel where Islamist militants have waged a violent insurgency over the past decade.
Groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have gained territory in recent years, spreading south from their strongholds in the north and centre and moving into neighbouring 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.
Islamist 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.
(Reporting by Tiemoko Dialla and Fadimata Kontao; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Kim Coghill)