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Canada Missing Canadian was kidnapped, taken to Mali, Human Rights Watch says

Luca Tacchetto and Edith Blais are seen in this undated handout photo from a Facebook page.

HO/The Canadian Press

A Canadian woman who’s been missing in West Africa for several months was reportedly kidnapped and taken to Mali.

Edith Blais of Quebec and her travel companion, Luca Taccheto of Italy, went missing in December while travelling in Burkina Faso.

They were travelling by car in southwestern Burkina Faso en route to Togo, where they planned to do volunteer work with an aid group.

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In a January statement, Burkina Faso’s government referred to the pair’s disappearance as a kidnapping.

The Canadian government did not confirm the information, but said it was not ruling out any possibilities.

However, a recent report by Human Rights Watch indicates that they were indeed abducted.

“While no armed Islamist group has taken responsibility for their abduction, they are believed to have been kidnapped and later taken to Mali,” the report, titled Abuses by Armed Islamist Groups in Burkina Faso’s Sahel Region, states. It cites an interview with Malian security sources on Jan. 13.

The report, published March 22 on the organization’s website, does not mention the fate of the two travellers.

In January, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he believed Ms. Blais was still alive.

“As far as we know, she is,” Mr. Trudeau said at that time. He said Ms. Blais’s story has people across the country preoccupied.

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“Our hearts go out to the family of Edith Blais and the entire community,” he said.

His statement came the day after another Canadian, Kirk Woodman, was found dead in northern Burkina Faso, close to the border with Mali and Niger. An executive with a Vancouver-based mining company, Mr. Woodman had been kidnapped a day earlier by gunmen as he worked on a gold mining project.

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