Title: France’s last hostage freed in Mali prisoner swap.
|| Godhuli News BD
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News and Video collected from BBC. Credit goes to BBC.
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.
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.
Their 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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