Here are details of foreigners held by kidnappers in Africa:
May 12, 2011 - Two engineers, Briton Chris McManus and Italian Franco Lamolinara, working for an Italian construction firm in Kebbi State, were kidnapped, near the borders with Niger and Benin. In March, British and Nigerian special forces staged a rescue attempt in the city of Sokoto, but the hostages were killed by the kidnappers.
January 26, 2012 - Gunmen kidnapped Edgar Fritz Raupach, a German working on a construction site in the city of Kano. He was killed in a rescue attempt on May 31.
February 28 - Pirates opened fire on the Breiz Clipper, a Dutch cargo ship, near Port Harcourt, kidnapping the ship's master and an engineer.
May 28 - An Italian engineer working for Borini Prono Construction Company was kidnapped in the state of Kwara.
May 30, 2012 - A U.S. citizen was kidnapped in Benin. A security source said the man had travelled to the country to meet a group of people from Benin and neighbouring Nigeria.
April 2008 - Gunmen seized a Briton and a Kenyan working on a U.N.-funded project in Middle Juba, southern Somalia.
July 14, 2009 - Somali gunmen kidnapped two French security advisers in Mogadishu, one escaped in August 2009.
Pirates based on the coast of Somalia have preyed on shipping in the Indian Ocean despite the dozens of international warships trying to stop them. More than 1,000 sailors are believed to have been held hostage for ransom, sometimes for months. Many were tortured and some died in captivity, but most have been freed after shipowners paid their captors.
-- The nationalities of those kidnapped reflects the global nature of the shipping business - from Filipino to Chinese, Indian, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, Syrian, and European sailors.
-- According to the latest figures from SaveOurSeafarers there are 13 ships being held and 200 hostages.
October 13, 2011 - Two Spanish aid workers employed by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) were kidnapped at Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp near Somalia.
November 23, 2011 - Two Frenchmen, an engineer and a technician working for a local cement firm, were abducted from their hotel in Hombori in northern Mali.
November 25, 2011 - Gunmen seized three people and killed a fourth on a street in Timbuktu. Those kidnapped were from South Africa, the Netherlands and Sweden. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.
October 23, 2011 - Two Spaniards and an Italian were abducted from a refugee camp near Tindouf in western Algeria. A ransom of 30 million euros is wanted by the kidnappers.
September 16, 2010 - Seven foreigners were kidnapped in Arlit, in Niger's northern uranium mining zone. AQIM claimed responsibility and demanded a 90 million-euro ($130 million) ransom. Some of the foreigners, including five French nationals, were taken by their captors to Mali the next day.
February 25, 2011 - A Togolese, a Malagasy man and the French wife of one of the employees were freed.
(Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)