Judge kidnapped as legal profession targeted in Mali
A district judge was kidnapped in central Mali late on Thursday, police and security sources told AFP, two weeks after a High Court justice escaped an attempt on his life.
Attacks on figures of state authority are common in northern and central Mali, where a jihadist insurgency and the near absence of government functions have fuelled lawlessness.
"Judge Soungalo Kone was kidnapped on Thursday night by armed men who arrived at his house in Niono in a white vehicle," a local police source in the Segou region told AFP, referring to the town where Kone lives and works.
"He was returning home when armed men appeared, which indicates he was being watched," the source added.
A security source said the kidnapping was being treated as the work of jihadists or someone local disgruntled with a court ruling.
The kidnapping comes after one of Mali's most senior judges, High Court Chief Justice Abdrahamane Niang, narrowly avoided death when his convoy was ambushed in Mopti, central Mali, on October 31.
Jihadists were accused of killing his driver, while five soldiers dispatched to the scene died when their vehicle triggered a mine explosion.
Mali's current instability is linked to the fall of northern cities in 2012 to Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists, who were routed by a French military intervention in 2013.
Although the jihadists no longer control cities, they have continued to mount attacks and aggravate tensions within communities.
The country's north and central regions are meanwhile awash with weapons that flowed into Mali from Libya after the fall of Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.