Tourists 'kidnapped in Niger'

Bamako - Two German tourists were on Thursday kidnapped by unknown assailants in Niger close to the border with Mali, a Malian provincial official said.

"Three hours after leaving the festival of Anderamboukane (on the border with Niger in Northern Mali) we learned that two German tourists were kidnapped on Thursday," an official from the northern Gao region, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.

The car the tourists were travelling in had been found abandoned, the official added.

A source in the Malian security forces confirmed the kidnapping, adding that it took place at Bani-Bangou, 60 kilometres from the border with Mali.

The Malian provincial authorities said they are investigating to try and help find the missing tourists.

The north of Mali has been the scene of violent clashes between Tuareg rebel groups and the Malian army in recent years.

The Tuareg's are a nomadic desert people who have roamed the southern Sahara for centuries.

In recent years they have staged uprisings in both Mali and Niger, claiming autonomy for their traditional homeland.

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