PARIS — A French journalist who went missing in Mali last month said in a video that circulated Wednesday on social media, but that could not be independently verified, that he had been kidnapped by a jihadist group operating in the region as he appealed for help from the authorities in France.
The 21-second clip appears to show Olivier Dubois, a French journalist based in Mali who disappeared there in early April, sitting cross-legged in what seems to be a tent.
After identifying himself, Mr. Dubois says in the video that he was kidnapped on April 8 in Gao, a town in central Mali, by a local Islamist group affiliated with Al Qaeda that is known as JSIM, an acronym for Group to Support Islam and Muslims.
“I am speaking to my family, to my friends and to the French authorities so that they do everything that is in their power to free me,” Mr. Dubois says in the video.
But the release of the video appeared to force the group and the French authorities to issue their first public comments on Mr. Dubois’ disappearance.
said in an article on Wednesday that in late March he had pitched the newspaper a face-to-face interview with a JSIM midlevel lieutenant in Gao, Abdallah Ag Albakaye.
“Olivier has solid contacts in the jihadist sphere, he has known some of them for years,” Libération wrote. “They were vouching for his safety.”
Libération turned down the pitch because of the risks involved, the newspaper wrote. Still, Mr. Dubois flew from Bamako to Gao. There, he spent several hours at his hotel and left for lunch. But two days later, he did not show up for his return flight to Bamako and was reported missing by the French Embassy in Mali, Libération said.
“The report of this reporter’s abduction is another cruel blow to journalism in the Sahel,” Arnaud Froger, the head of Reporters Without Borders’ Africa desk, said in a statement, referring to the sub-Saharan region that stretches from Senegal to Sudan.
Armed groups operating in Mali and other countries in the Sahel have made it increasingly difficult for journalists to report from the region. Last month, two Spanish journalists making a documentary about anti-poaching efforts and an Irish ranger were kidnapped and killed in Burkina Faso.
Central and northern Mali have become especially dangerous since 2013, when France sent its forces into the West African country, a former French colony, after armed Islamists took control of its northern cities.