Five foreign nationals were abducted from a construction site in northern Mali on Saturday when gunmen raided the site for equipment and took hostages, said the army in a statement.
Mali is no stranger to kidnappings, with foreign nationals in particular regularly targeted by militants hoping to obtain ransoms for their release.
The five abducted people consist of three Chinese nationals, employees of Chinese construction firm Covec and two Mauritanians, employees of Mauritanian road-building company ATTM. They had been developing the site while under the protection of a private security company, the army statement said.
No group has yet taken responsibility for the attack for the raid that took place 55 kilometres (34 miles) from the town of Kwala, a regular transit point for companies moving through Mali’s desert north, the statement said.
The attackers according to the statement also made off with five pick-up trucks before setting fire to much of the site, destroying a crane, dump trucks and other equipment owned by the companies.