Malian authorities confirmed Thursday that the alleged jihadist abductors released their hostages: Sophie Pétronin, Pierluigi Maccalli, Nicola Chiacchio, and Soumaïla Cissé, according to the Guardian.
The Malian presidential office tweeted that Sophie Pétronin, a French humanitarian and Malian politician, Soumaïla Cissé were on their way to the capital Bamako.
Negotiations Were Anything But Easy
President Emmanuel Macron appreciated the discharge of the last French hostage in the world, Pétronin, per the Guardian.
The French President also announced France’s continued support for the Mali government’s fight against terrorism.
Macron tweeted that Sophie Pétronin was set “free” after being kept captive for almost “four years in Mali.”
He also wrote that Pétronin’s “release is a great relief.”
President Macron added that he was “particularly grateful” to the Malian government for its part in coordinating “the release,” France24 reported.
An anonymous “intermediary” who took part in “negotiations” said the procedure “was not easy.”
The government of Mali released more than 100 rumored and convicted Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists in exchange for the hostages’ freedom.
The Hostages in Detail
Pétronin, 75, runs an organization that helps orphans in Mali.
The group abducted her on December 24, 2016.
Moreover, Pétronin was ill with malaria when armed men took her, France24 reported.
Another hostage, Cissé, 70, is a prominent politician in Mali and a three-time presidential hopeful.
His captors took him on March 25 during a parliamentary elections campaign.
His supporters gathered at Bamako airport to acknowledge the opposition leader on his arrival, according to BBC.
The former government minister said he “ spent six months” in a very isolated “state” and under very harsh “conditions.”
Another hostage, Pierluigi Maccalli, is a man of the cloth and missionary from Italy.
His abductors took him in September 2018 in Burkina Faso border of Niger and Mali, per the Guardian.
Lastly, Nicola Chiacchio, an Italian tourist, was taken hostage while traveling the area, according to BBC.