Authorities in Financial They confirmed the release of an elderly French aid worker, two Italian captives, and a senior Malian politician, all of whom are believed to be jihadists detained.
Thursday’s tweet stated that French Sophie Petronin, 75, and Sumaila Cisse, 70, were on their way to the capital, Bamako.
French President Emmanuel Macron immediately welcomed the release of Petronin, the last French hostage in the world, and expressed his country’s continued support for Financial In its war against terrorism.
“Sophie Pétronin is free.” “He has been held hostage for nearly four years in Mali, and her release is a great relief,” Macron wrote on Twitter.
“I think I haven’t realized yet. She’s on the plane,” said her son, Sebastian Shadow Petronin, who traveled to Mali earlier this week expecting her release. France Information Radio.
The two Italian hostages are Pierluigi Macalli, a priest and evangelist who was kidnapped in September 2018 in Niger, near the Burkina Faso border, and Nicola Chiaccio, who is believed to have been a tourist when he was arrested. The two appeared in a video in April 2020.
The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs praised the cooperation between intelligence, government employees and financial authorities.
The announcement on Thursday came after several days of uncertainty over the release of Petronin and Sissi, who are believed to be held by al Qaeda militants. Media sources said on Tuesday that Petronin and Sissi had been released, but that the Petronin family remained cautious.
Speculation about their release began to spread in the conflict-ridden Sahel state over the weekend, when the government released more than 100 suspected and convicted jihadists.
Petronin was kidnapped by armed men on December 24, 2016 in the northern city of Gao, where she was working for a children’s charity.
Cisse, a 70-year-old former opposition leader and three-time presidential candidate, was kidnapped on 25 March while campaigning for parliamentary elections in his region of Niafunci, central Mali.
On Thursday, the Malian government gave no indication of the circumstances of the hostages’ release, nor did it provide information on the health of either Petronin or Cissi.
One of the mediators who participated in the release negotiations, and who requested anonymity, said that the process “was not easy.”
Mali released more than 100 jihadist prisoners to the restive center of the country over the weekend, and in the northern town of Tessalit, a security official told AFP this week.
The rare mass release sparked immediate speculation on social media that the government was swapping prisoners for Petronin and Sisi.
The Malian and French governments refused to comment on the issue over the following days, despite intense media attention.
The kidnapping of former opposition leader Sisi was one of the factors that fueled the popular protests that led to Keita’s ouster due to his belief in his inability to deal with jihadists and Islamist insurgency. Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed in the conflict, which has often taken on an ethnic dimension.
The mediator involved in the negotiations told AFP on Thursday that the release of the jihadists was necessary.
He said, “Yes, the terrorists were released.” “We had to get a release.”
Many other hostages are still being held by armed groups in the Sahel region.