France warns of jihadist kidnap threats in Burkina Faso park

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The UNESCO World Heritage park, which attracts thousands of tourists, is being targeted by Malian jihadists say French officials.

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The French embassy on Wednesday warned its citizens against travelling to a national park in eastern Burkina Faso after reports that Malian jihadists were threatening to kidnap foreigners, reports Reuters.

The park, which also spills into Niger and Benin and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, lures thousands of tourists during Burkina Faso's December-May hunting season.

"We received information indicating threats coming from north Malian terrorists," said Nadia Fanton, a diplomat at the French embassy, adding: "There appear to be threats of kidnapping of foreigners in the W Park."

A security source in Burkina Faso also confirmed that jihadists had been seeking to set up camps in the park, without naming their group.

It was not clear if visitors were deemed to be at risk in the Niger and Benin portions of W Park, where lions, cheetahs, elephants and African wild dogs are a major draw for tourists.

The park is named "W" because it is shaped like the letter around the contours of the River Niger.

In 2013, French forces drove Islamist militants out of towns they had captured in northern Mali but in recent months fighters have stepped up their insurgency and have struck in areas far beyond their desert strongholds.

Read more of this report from Reuters.

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