S. Korea to revise travel alert system for Africa, Middle East in wake of kidnapping

SEOUL, South Korea will revise the travel warning system for conflict-prone regions in Africa and the Middle East, following the kidnapping of a South Korean woman in western Africa, a foreign ministry official said Monday.

The decision comes after a middle-aged Korean woman was freed last week after a nearly month-long captivity. She was held by an apparent Islamic militant group in Burkina Faso. She was safely transported to Paris on Saturday (Paris time) and arrangements are being made for her return at an early date.

"We plan to put the overall (travel) warnings system under review, including raising public awareness via SNS channels about traveling to dangerous nations," a ministry official told reporters.

South Korea and France are pushing to sign a preliminary cooperation deal on crisis management by the end of this year, the official added.

"We will seek ways to enhance international cooperation with developed countries to that end," the official said.

The Korean woman, in her 40s, was taken hostage, along with an American woman, when the armed assailants ambushed a bus that had some 10 people aboard on April 12 (Africa time), according to an informed source.

She had apparently been on a trip around the world for about 18 months, and had traveled to Morocco, Senegal and Mali before she arrived in Burkina Faso. She was said to be on her way to the neighboring country of Benin.

The ministry official said the alert level for the eastern part of Burkina Faso will be raised to a "red" alert, meaning people are advised not to travel or to leave the country, and that the ministry will impose a new travel warning for Benin.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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