Two International Red Cross workers kidnapped in Mali

© Souleymane Ag Anara, AFP

Two workers with the International Committee of the Red Cross were kidnapped in northern Mali on Saturday, the organisation said, the latest abduction in the troubled West African country.

Kidnappings are common in Mali, which has been battling a security and political crisis since jihadist and separatist insurgencies broke out in the north of the country in 2012.

Jihadists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have escalated their operations into central Mali and neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso.

Thousands of civilians, police and troops have been killed across the region, and more than two million have fled their homes.

"We confirm the kidnapping of two of our colleagues this morning", the ICRC said, adding that the incident took place between Gao and Kidal in the north of the country.

The ICRC, which has been in the country for 32 years, reiterated that it is "neutral, independent and impartial", and asked that no speculations be made about the incident "so as not to hinder its resolution".

"The ICRC deplores (the incident) and demands the release of its collaborators," Aminata Alassane, a public relations officer with ICRC, told AFP.

"In spite of all that, we're doing everything we can to reach those in distress, including in the remotest areas of the country."

Security woes

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