Mali: last French hostage liberated

Brussels 09.10.2020 AMENDED: First images of Mme.Sophie Pétronin, 75, from Bamako Airport, Mali, where she was embraced by her son Sebastian. At present her state of health is unknown, she appeared on video, released by her kidnappers very fragile.

Brussels 8.10.2020 The Presidency of the French Republic confirms the release of Mr. Soumaïla Cissé and Ms. Sophie Pétronin. The ex-hostages are on their way to Bamako”, writes the presidency of Mali on his Twitter account.

The last French hostage in the world, Ms.Sophie Pétronin, captive since December 2016 in the Sahel, and Malian opponent Soumaïla Cissé are free and on their way to Bamako, the Malian presidency announced Thursday evening.

Two Italian hostages, Nicola Chiacchio and missionary Pier Luigi Maccalli, who were also detained in the north of the country, the scene of a jihadist insurgency, were also released, the presidency of Mali announced later in the evening in a statement. read on national television.

In Paris, Emmanuel Macron said in a statement released by the Elysee Palace that he had learned “with immense relief” of the release of Sophie Pétronin.

“Happy to know that she is free, he sends a message of sympathy to his family and loved ones,” the presidential statement continued. “The President of the Republic also welcomes the release on the same occasion of Mr. Soumaïla Cissé, Malian politician kidnapped six months ago.”

The head of state “particularly thanks the Malian authorities for this release. He assures them of France’s entire will to support Mali in the fight it is waging with perseverance against terrorism in the Sahel ”.

Aged 75, Sophie Pétronin, who headed a small Franco-Swiss NGO helping malnourished children, was kidnapped on December 24, 2016 in Gao, in northern Mali.

In a video released in June 2018 – the most recent – she appeared very tired and challenged Emmanuel Macron, believing that the head of state had “forgotten” her.

In November of the same year, his captors had issued a press release stating a “deterioration of his health” and blamed the French government for which, according to them, “stubbornness” “prevented” the closure of this. “case”.

On April 1, we learned that the French authorities had “proof of life” from Sophie Pétronin dating back to “early March”, according to her son, Sébastien Chadaud-Pétronin.

The latter had left for Bamako on Tuesday in the hope of his mother’s release soon.

“I’ve been saying I believe it for four years and I’m a big liar because there are a bunch of times I didn’t believe it. And then there, I could not believe it any more “, he reacted Thursday evening at the microphone of France Info.

“I can’t even realize it yet, I think I haven’t realized yet. She’s on the plane. There is now a bunch of odds that we meet again, I think we can tell, ”he added, his voice filled with emotion.

Popular opponent Soumaïla Cissé, who was finance minister between 1993 and 2000, was kidnapped in March while campaigning in the Timbuktu region in the north of the country.

Reportedly two hundred jihadists were liberated as a part of a deal to liberate Mme.Pétronin, and Mr.Cissé.

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