Suspected jihadists in central Mali are holding more than 110 civilians they abducted six days ago, local sources told AFP on Monday. Three buses carrying the civilians were stopped on April 16 by “jihadists”, who forced the vehicles and the passengers to head towards a forest between Bandiagara and Bankass, a local group of associations and an elected official said. “We demand the release of more than 110 passengers of three buses abducted on Tuesday by jihadists,” a member of the group, Oumar Ongoiba, told AFP.

An elected official from Bandiagara, who wanted to remain anonymous for security reasons, said, “The three buses and the passengers, more than 120, are still being held by jihadists.” Mali has since 2012 been ravaged by different factions affiliated to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, as well as by self-declared, self-defence forces and bandits. The worsening security situation has been compounded by a humanitarian and political crisis. The violence spilled over into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, with all three countries seeing military regimes seize power.