Swiss missionary kidnapped in Mali could be the same held by Islamic gunmen in 2012
A Swiss woman has been kidnapped from her home in the northern Malian town of Timbuktu, army officials say.
A spokesperson for the Malian army, Souleymane Maiga confirmed the abduction to Reuters but refused to give details of the incident.
"I confirm that a European woman was kidnapped in Timbuktu at 3:30 am," he said.
"A neighbour alerted the security forces around 6 am."
However a local resident told the news agency the victim is the same missionary who was held for more than a week by Islamist gunmen in 2012 when the north had been taken over by groups linked to al-Qaeda.
In 2012, Islamist fighters in northern Mali kidnapped Beatrice Stockly, a Swiss woman working as a missionary in Timbuktu, and released her days later.
A resident of Timbuktu who knows Ms Stockly told Reuters it was she who was kidnapped last night.
The Swiss foreign ministry in Berne said it was aware of the "alleged kidnapping" of a Swiss citizen in Mali.
"The Swiss local representative is in contact with the local authorities," it said in an email.
"For privacy and data protection reasons, no further information can be given at the moment."
French forces drove Islamist fighters from major urban centres in 2013 but the fighters remain active in the West African country and have recently intensified their insurgency.
France continues to fight militants in Mali and elsewhere in the desert band known as the Sahel with a 3,500-strong counterterrorism force called Barkhane.
There are 10 Irish military personnel currently in Mali as part of an UN mission to train the Mali army.