Armed men have kidnapped three Italians and a Togolese national in southeastern Mali, a local official and a Malian security source told AFP on Friday. “Armed men in a vehicle kidnapped three Italians and a Togolese about 10 km from Koutiala,” late Thursday, according to an official from the Koutiala region who asked not to be named. He said the victims — “two Italians and a child” and a Togolese — were members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious movement. A Malian security source, also speaking on condition of anonymity, described the abductees as “religious people.” He said the abduction took place in the southeastern town of Sincina. “We are doing everything to obtain their release,” the person said, adding that diplomatic lines of communication were open. Mali has since 2012 been wracked by a jihadist insurgency by groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Vast swathes of the country are in thrall to myriad rebel groups and militias. Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes amid violence that began in the north of the country and spread to the centre, and then to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger. Olivier Dubois, a 47-year-old French freelance journalist who has been living and working in Mali since 2015, was kidnapped more than a year ago. He announced his abduction himself in a video posted on social networks on May 5, 2021.