Arab man, among last in Timbuktu, arrested after giving interview in Mali

Acquaintances of one of the last Arab men still living in Timbuktu said that Ali Ould Mohamed Kalbali was arrested by soldiers and taken away, just hours after he gave an interview to a political scientist.

Pierre Piccinin da Prata, a political scientist, says he interviewed Kalbali at around 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, before leaving the city for his return voyage to Bamako. Only two hours later, he received a call from his guide back in Timbuktu, saying soldiers had taken Kalbali away.

Witness Mahamane Abdoulahi confirmed that he saw the 70-year-old man being taken away by soldiers who bound his hands.

Most of Timbuktu's Arab population has fled, fearing reprisals by Mali's military for their perceived affinity to the Islamic extremists who seized control of Mali's north last year.