Fiber Optic Installers Murdered in Central Mali


While the world fight to eliminate terror elements, we hear sad news from Mali, a landlocked North African country that a team of 5 fiber optic cable installation crew has been kidnapped and then murdered by terrorists. The team of fiber optic installers was working at a project site in Central Mali for a Chinese company. Four of them were from Mali and one was from Togo.

These kinds of terror activities will negatively impact the growth of Mali as foreign investors will fear to invest further. Actual motivation of terrorists is also nothing but to create fear in the society. Mali is surrounded by Mauritania, Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Senegal. The group was working a few dozen kilometers from the town of Niafunke on Friday when they were dragged away by unidentified armed men.

Local officials said that the five members of fiber optic installation crew were dragged from the site, the next day they were found dead and their bodies abandoned on the roadside. It seems from the available reports that there was no security provided to the team.

There is a stereotype image particularly about the North African countries regarding the security of business establishments operated by foreign investors. Incidents like this will reinforce that stereotype. Staff working with the Chinese firm expressed their concern in working on such circumstances without proper security measures. It is known from the beginning of the project stage that the project area is under threat from Islamic terrorists and only a few counter steps were taken to protect the employees.

There are 3 Chinese companies currently working on telecommunication projects in the region and all of them are concerned with the development in Mali. The government should ensure the safety of workers in remote areas especially. These Chinese companies have spent two years to install fiber optic cables in central and southern Mali to bring faster internet to the region.

Many places of the fiber optic route are rocky and the workers had a difficult time to progress with the project. Insecurity issues were also there and caused delay to the project. Security in Mali’s central belt has deteriorated rapidly in the last few years due to jihadist insurgency and inter-communal clashes. The murders were reported during the final day of Mali’s International Investment Forum, held the capital, Bamako, highlighting the challenges faced by foreign firms operating in the West African nation or hoping to enter its market.

Mali has been struggling to attract foreign investment despite plentiful deposits of gold, among other resources, due to five years of instability and frequent kidnappings of foreign workers including humanitarians. Extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of northern cities in Mali in March and April 2012 but were chased out by a French-led military operation launched in January 2013, which is still underway.

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