Mali — Sophie Pétronin, Soumaila Cisse Released

  • “I hang on…I prayed a lot because I had of time,” Sophie said adding that she transformed her detention into a spiritual retreat.
  • Two Italians and a top Malian politician, Soumaila Cisse, were also released.
  • Earlier in the week, 180 prisoners were released from a prison in Bamako by the Malian authorities on Saturday and Sunday and flown to the northern part of the country.

At least four people who had been held captive in Mali have been released by jihadists. Among those released is an old French aid worker, Sophie Petronin, who had been held hostage for four years. The 75 year old, who was running a charity for children with malnutrition was kidnapped by an Islamic militants in December 2016.

The leader of Mali’s political opposition, Soumaila Cisse, and members of his campaign team, were hostage by unidentified gunmen in the north.  Cisse was released in October 2020.

“Sophie Petronin is free. Held hostage for nearly four years in Mali, her release is a great relief,” the French President, Emmanuel Macron, wrote on his Twitter page. Macron revealed that France will continue supporting Mali in fighting the militants active in the country.

Sophie’s son, Sebastien Chadaud- Petronin had traveled to the countries capital, Bamako, to receive his mother. Sebastien said no matter the state in which his mother was in, he was looking forward to seeing her.

As Sophie disembarked from the plane, she was embraced by her relatives. “I hang on…I prayed a lot because I had of time,” Sophie said, adding that she transformed her detention into a spiritual retreat.

The other hostages released were two Italians, Pierliugi Maccali, a priest and missionary who was taken captive in 2018; Nicola Chiacchio, a tourist; and a top Malian politician, Soumaila Cisse. The opposition leader said that while in captivity he lived in very difficult conditions, but added that he was not subjected to any violence.

Earlier in the week, 180 prisoners were released from a prison in Bamako by the Malian authorities on Saturday and Sunday and flown to the northern part of the country. It was alleged that the release could be in exchange for Cisse.

The opposition leader was kidnapped by gunmen alongside six members of his team as he campaigned for the March legislative elections in the central part of the country near Timbuktu. He had been held for more than six months.

Bah Ndaw (C) with junta leaders Col Assimi Goita (L) and Col Malick Diaw (R).

Cisse’s capture was one of the reasons protests erupted in Mali, calling for the resignation of the former president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, citing his failure to fight militant attacks active in the country. He was later ousted on August 18 in a coup by a military junta

Mali’s government made the announcement on Thursday without clearly revealing the circumstances under which the hostages were released. The release came at a time when an interim government was put in place.

Bah Ndaw was inaugurated on September 25 as the Interim President of Mali, alongside Goita Assimi. The head of the junta will serve as the Vice President. On September 27, Ndaw named his Prime Minister, the former Foreign Minister, Moctar Ouane.

The country has, over the years, struggled to contain an Islamic insurgency that has ripped through the country since it erupted in 2012. It has since claimed thousands of military and civilian lives. The violence has since spread to its neighbors, Niger and Burkina Faso.

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Juliet Norah

I am a freelance journalist is passionate about news. I derive pleasure in informing people about the happenings in the world

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