French hostages: In cold blood

The last journey home

OVER the years France has grown painfully accustomed to seeing its countrymen taken hostage abroad. So it was to much relief that on October 29th four French hostages, kidnapped in Niger three years ago while working at a French-owned uranium mine and then held in Mali, were freed and arrived safely home. But the good news was short-lived. Just four days later, two more French citizens, both journalists working for RFI, France’s public world-service radio, were seized in northern Mali by armed gunmen, driven into the desert and shot dead.Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, whose bodies were repatriated to France this week, were both experienced journalists working on a report in Kidal in northern Mali. They had just finished interviewing a local leader of a secular Tuareg resistance movement, the MNLA. In broad daylight, as the reporters were about to drive off, a sand-coloured pickup truck blocked their way, according to their chauffeur’s testimony. Tuareg-speaking gunmen seized the reporters, threw them into the pickup and sped off. Locally based French soldiers found the journalists’ bodies less than two hours…

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