Officials in Mali say a group of European tourists have been kidnapped in the country.

They say the group was abducted Thursday as they drove close to the border with Niger.

It is not clear how many tourists were kidnapped or where they are from, although some reports say at least one German and two Swiss nationals were among those abducted.

The region has been the scene of clashes between ethnic Tuareg rebels and the Malian army in recent years. Islamic rebels have also been operating in the area.

Last year, the group al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa claimed responsibility for kidnapping two Austrian tourists in Tunisia and then hiding them in the Malian desert for several months.  The hostages were released in October.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.