In an unprecedented revelation, Nasser Bourita, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation, and Moroccans living abroad, has unveiled the gripping details surrounding the abduction of two Moroccan cyclists by armed groups operating in the perilous region between Niger and Burkina Faso. These adventurers faced 42 days of captivity before Morocco orchestrated a series of diplomatic maneuvers to secure their release.
In response to a parliamentary inquiry by Hassan Al-Saadi on behalf of “the National Rally of Independents”, Minister Bourita disclosed that the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs swiftly established contact with its embassies in both Niger and Burkina Faso upon receiving confirmation of the cyclists’ disappearance along the border.
Minister Bourita acknowledged the toll exacted by their prolonged ordeal, evident in the fatigue and malnutrition suffered by the Moroccan bikers.
Abd al-Rahman al-Sirhani and Idriss Fathi, the two courageous Moroccan riders, disappeared in April while traversing Burkina Faso. Sources revealed that they had fallen victim to an armed group’s kidnapping, only to be liberated after enduring over a month in captivity. The successful release of the cyclists was the result of effective cooperation between Moroccan intelligence and their Nigerian counterparts.
Abd al-Rahman al-Sirhani, a retired professor of Islamic education at the age of 65, and Idris Fathi, a 37-year-old merchant, embarked on their journey from Morocco on January 19th. Their expedition took them across the Kingdom’s southern border through the Karkarat crossing, leading them towards Mauritania and eventually other African countries.
Following their entry into Burkina Faso from Ivory Coast in late March, the cyclists maintained a low profile. Unfortunately, the northeastern regions they ventured into have been plagued by a surge in violence since 2015, with armed terrorist groups affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State orchestrating the turmoil.