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French Hostage And Mali Opposition Leader Freed

In this undated and unlocated handout file picture released by the support committee for the liberation of Sophie Petronin shows Sophie Petronin while on assignment in Africa. Handout / / AFP



A French aid worker kidnapped in Mali in 2016 and one of the country’s leading opposition politicians have been released, the presidency said on Thursday.

The office of Mali’s president said on social media that Frenchwoman Sophie Petronin, 75, and Soumaila Cisse, 70, who were believed to have been held by al-Qaeda-affiliated militants, were on their way to the capital Bamako.

The announcement comes after Mali freed over 100 alleged or convicted jihadists over the weekend.

The government gave no indication of the circumstances of the hostages release, however, nor did it provide information on the health of either Petronin or Cisse.

Petronin was abducted by gunmen on December 24, 2016, in the northern city of Gao. She was the last French national held hostage in the world.

Cisse, a three-time presidential candidate, was abducted on March 25 while campaigning in his home region of Niafounke in central Mali ahead of a parliamentary election.

Mali has been struggling to contain a jihadist insurgency that first emerged in 2012, and which has since claimed thousands of lives.


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