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World France's last hostage freed in Mali prisoner swap

03:30  09 october  2020
03:30  09 october  2020 Source:   bbc.com

Mali. The junta makes a sizeable concession for a lifting of sanctions

 Mali. The junta makes a sizeable concession for a lifting of sanctions © MICHELE CATTANI / AFP Members of the junta, September 22 in Bamako. The military junta which took power in Mali gives up a major prerogative devolved on their leader in the transition supposed to bring civilians back to the head of the country. This could lead to a lifting of sanctions by the Community of West African States.

She has now arrived in France . Two Italian nationals were also freed . The release was part of a prisoner swap for more than 100 jihadists, believed The Malian presidency has not revealed how it was able to free the hostages . Malian and international armed forces have been struggling to contain

A prominent Malian opposition leader, a French aid worker and two Italian hostages were released by jihadists, Mali ' s government confirmed on Thursday. They were freed in an apparent exchange for close to 200 jihadists who were in government custody. French aid worker Sophie Petronin, 75, was

Four people abducted and detained in Mali, including 75-year-old French charity worker Sophie Pétronin, have been released by their hostage-takers, officials confirm.

a young boy standing next to a body of water: Sophie Pétronin's family and campaigners worked hard to keep her kidnapping in the public eye © Liberons Sophie/Facebook Sophie Pétronin's family and campaigners worked hard to keep her kidnapping in the public eye

Ms Pétronin, who was seized in December 2016, was the last French citizen to be held hostage anywhere in the world.

Ex-Malian opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé and two Italian nationals were also freed, the Malian government said.

Mali frees over 100 jihadists seeking hostage swap

  Mali frees over 100 jihadists seeking hostage swap Insurgency-hit Mali freed over 100 alleged or convicted jihadists over the weekend in a bid to secure the release of a top politician and French charity worker, an official in charge of the negotiations told AFP on Monday. The rare mass release of prisoners, confirmed by a member of the security services, comes as an eight-year Islamist insurgency, that has claimed thousands of lives, continues to threaten the fragile West African country. © STRINGER Swathes of the sprawling country remain outside government control Soumaila Cisse, a 70-year-old former opposition leader and three-time presidential candidate, was abducted on March 25 while campaigning in his

The government’ s release of prisoners last weekend had led to speculation in Mali that a deal to free the hostages had been struck. President Emmanuel Macron of France said in a statement that he was “immensely relieved” to learn that Ms. Pétronin, 75, had been freed after the Malian authorities

A Frenchman held hostage by an al Qaeda-linked group in Mali was reportedly freed as part of a prisoner swap with two jailed militants. Serge Lazarevic was welcomed home on Wednesday by family members and French President Francois Hollande. Reports say his release was facilitated by a deal

Their release was part of a prisoner swap for more than 100 jihadists.

Hopes rise for release of France's last hostage

  Hopes rise for release of France's last hostage Sophie Pétronin was abducted in Mali in 2016 and is known as the last French hostage in the world. © Getty Images Sophie Pétronin's family and campaigners have tried to keep her kidnapping in the public eye Now, there are reports of her imminent release, alongside a veteran Malian politician, as part of a prisoner swap for more than 100 jihadists,Charity worker Ms Pétronin is described as almost forgotten in France. Soumaïla Cissé, 70, is an ex-opposition leader and presidential candidate kidnapped in March.

Sophie Pétronin, an elderly aid worker who was the last French hostage in the world, was released on Thursday after being held captive by jihadists in Mali for French President Emmanuel Macron voiced “immense relief” at Pétronin' s release, and tweeted Friday that he would welcome her back to France .

Four people abducted and detained in Mali , including 75-year-old French charity worker Sophie Pétronin and ex- Malian opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé, have She has now arrived in France . Two Italian nationals were also freed . The release was part of a prisoner swap for more than 100 jihadists

Islamist militants, believed to be affiliated to al-Qaeda, were reportedly behind the abductions.

The Malian presidency has not revealed how it was able to free the hostages.

Malian and international armed forces have been struggling to contain a jihadist insurgency in the north of country that first emerged in 2012.

What's the latest?

On Thursday, the Malian presidency said that both Ms Pétronin and Mr Cissé, who was abducted in March while campaigning for parliamentary elections, were being taken to the capital, Bamako.

Authorities had been working on their release for months.

Following news of Ms Pétronin's release on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he felt "immense relief" and was "happy to know she is free".

"To the Malian authorities, thank you," he said in a tweet, adding: "The fight against terrorism in the Sahel continues."

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Earlier this week, Ms Pétronin's son Sébastien Chadaud said he was weary of celebrating after earlier reports that his mother was set to be free proved to be false. "We've already lived through moments like this, for four years," he said.

Mali: ECOWAS lifts the sanctions imposed since the coup of August 18

 Mali: ECOWAS lifts the sanctions imposed since the coup of August 18 © REUTERS / Luc Gnago View of Bamako, the capital of Mali, August 9, 2018. The embargo is over which weighed on Mali since the coup d'état of August 18 against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. The community of West African states has therefore announced the lifting of sanctions. With our correspondent in Bamako, Serge Daniel The declaration of the heads of state and government of the Economic Community of West African States on Mali was made public this Tuesday in the late morning.

KIDAL, Mali , Oct 5 (Reuters) - Mali will release scores of suspected Islamist insurgents in a prisoner exchange for opposition leader Soumaila Cisse and France ' s foreign ministry declined to comment on Monday. Representatives for the hostages could not be reached to confirm if they had been freed .

A prisoner exchange enabled Wednesday' s release of three European aid workers held hostage in Mali image captionThe freed hostages have now flown home after their nine-month ordeal. He was held along with fellow Spaniard Ainhoa Fernandez and Italian Rossella Urru since last October

a man sitting at a table: Ms Pétronin's son Sébastien Chadaud in the Malian capital Bamako earlier this week © Getty Images Ms Pétronin's son Sébastien Chadaud in the Malian capital Bamako earlier this week

The two Italian hostages released were named as Pierluigi Maccalli, a missionary priest who was kidnapped in 2018, and Nicola Chiacchio, who was believed to have been captured while travelling in the region as a tourist.

In April, the two appeared in a video together which was reportedly handed to local media outlets by an unnamed group.

Earlier on Thursday, the Malian authorities announced the release of a dozen political and military figures arrested during the coup.

In August, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta was overthrown by a military junta and little is known of what happened to talks to secure a prisoner swap after the coup.

Who is Sophie Pétronin?

Abducted on Christmas Eve 2016 in the northern city of Gao, she was well known locally for her work helping orphans and other children suffering from malnutrition.

She had been running Swiss charity Association Aid to Gao since 2004 and was an expert in guinea-worm disease, which spread through contaminated water in northern Mali.

Mali: Sophie Pétronin's son without news of his mother

 Mali: Sophie Pétronin's son without news of his mother © MICHELE CATTANI Sébastien Chadaud, Sophie Pétronin's son, hostage in Mali, October 6, 2020 in Bamako Sophie Pétronin's son, the last French hostage in the world, said Wednesday morning without news for the moment of his mother, at the center of conjecture and information as to a forthcoming release after years of detention in the hands of the jihadists.

When Tuareg rebels, backed by Islamists, seized Gao as unrest spread in Mali in 2012, seven Algerian diplomats were abducted and the Algerian consul gave her protection until the building came under attack. She fled through a back door and was spirited out of Mali into Algeria wearing long robes.

"We crossed the desert in just one night, when normally it takes two days," she told Le Dauphiné Libéré newspaper in May 2012. "I checked the speedometer, we were going at 130km/h (80mph).

a person walking down a street in front of a building: French President Emmanuel Macron thanked the Malian authorities after news of Ms Pétronin's release © Reuters French President Emmanuel Macron thanked the Malian authorities after news of Ms Pétronin's release

She had escaped Mali in disguise but soon returned, and was abducted in a daylight raid claimed by Mali militant group JNIM.

She has appeared in two hostage videos and at one point her son went to a local mediator who said the kidnappers were prepared to accept a ransom for her release. In one video, in June 2018, she appealed for help from Mr Macron, looking tired and gaunt.

She was suffering from cancer and malaria at the time of her abduction.

Who is Soumaïla Cissé?

Mr Cissé, who was kidnapped while campaigning for legislative elections, is a former government minister and a prominent opposition leader.

Former Malian presidential candidate Soumaïla Cissé was abducted in March © Getty Images Former Malian presidential candidate Soumaïla Cissé was abducted in March

He was the main challenger to Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in the 2013 and 2018 presidential elections - losing both times. Following the result of the 2018 vote he complained of electoral fraud.

President Keïta was overthrown in August, in part because of a perceived failure to tackle the jihadist militants in the north of the country, and Mr Cissé's continued captivity was seen as a symptom of that.

What's behind Mali's Islamist insurgency?

A separatist rebellion in the north of the country that began in 2011 created the conditions for militant jihadists to take control of parts of the region.

In 2013, a French-led force helped seize back territory, but a network of jihadist groups remained active and they were able to carry out attacks and kidnappings.

The Malian government has not been able to regain full control of the north.

France continues to support forces in Mali and in other parts of the Sahel region in their fight against the militants.

Switzerland says its national held hostage in Mali killed .
Beatrice Stoeckli, kidnapped four years ago by alleged al-Qaeda fighters, has been killed, Swiss foreign ministry says.The ministry on Friday said it was informed by the French authorities that the hostage had been “killed by kidnappers of the Islamist terrorist organisation Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam Muslimeen” (JNIM) about a month ago.

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