Ménaka Cercle in Mali
|Admin HQ (Chef-lieu)||Ménaka|
|Population (2009 Census)|
|Time zone||GMT (UTC+0)|
Ménaka Cercle is an administrative subdivision of the Gao Region of Mali. Its administrative center is the town of Ménaka. Ménaka Cercle's population as of 2009 was 56,104 people. Ménaka Cercle is a rural, isolated, and largely desert area, crisscrossed by seasonal wadis, part of an ancient dry river system of the Azaouad region (the Iullemmeden Basin). The area includes the rocky outcrops of the Ader Douchi hills. Most of the small population are nomadic are Tuareg tribal populations, as well as nomadic minorities, including the Wodaabe Fula and sedentary Songhai people. The area is a traditional center of the Kel Dinnik Tuareg confederation, with the town of Andéramboukane, near the Nigerien border, being one historic center for transhumance communities.
On 22 January, four foreign tourists were reported kidnapped in Ménaka Cercle, while traveling by auto from a festival at Anderamboukané on the main road to Ménaka, and on to Gao. One Briton, one German, and two Swiss citizens were reportedly kidnapped. One of their vehicles escaped the attack, and one which was seized was later found abandoned across the border near Bani-Bangou, Niger. The German and one of the Swiss citizens were released in April 2009. The Briton was killed in May 2009. The other Swiss citizen was released in July 2009.
On 25 November, a Frenchman called Pierre Camatte was taken hostage from a hotel in Ménaka city. A January 2010 statement issued by the north African branch of al-Qaeda, sets an ultimatum of 20 days for the exchange of four of al-Qaeda members by Pierre Camatte, after which, it says, the French and Malian governments "will be fully responsible for the French hostage's life". Camatte was released in exchange for the four prisoners in February 2010.