The Government of Mali announced this Thursday the release of four hostages, the French Sophie Pétronin, two Italian citizens and the Malian political leader Soumaila Cissé. The three Europeans are already on their way to their respective countries and French President Emmanuel Macron was scheduled to receive Pétronin this Friday.
These hostages were in the hands of the Front for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM), an alliance of groups jihadists related to Al Qaeda. All have been kidnapped in the last four years, although under different circumstances.
End to years of detention
The french Sophie Pétronin, 75, was Captured December 24, 2016 in Gao (northern Mali), where he had lived and led a children’s aid organization for years. Macron spoke to her on the phone on Thursday and announced on Twitter: “I just had a few words on the phone with Sophie Pétronin. What a joy having heard his voice and know that you are now safe! I will receive it tomorrow (Friday) upon his return to France. “
I just exchanged a few words by phone with Sophie Pétronin. What a joy to have heard her voice and to know that she is now safe! I will welcome him when he returns to France tomorrow.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 8, 2020
The exrehen llHe went to Bamako, the first stop on his return, this Thursday, where he received her your son, Sebastien Chadaud-Pétronin. The man I fought for years so that his mother would not be forgotten.
The Italian priest Pier Luigi Macalli was kidnapped on September 17, 2018 by armed men at his home, near the border with Burkina Faso. The other Italian, Nicola Chiacchi, disappeared in northern Mali in February 2019.
Soumaila Cissé, meanwhile, that came second three times in presidential elections, was kidnapped on March 25, 2020 when he was campaigning for legislative elections in the region of Timbuktu (northwest).
Release of prisoners
The release of the hostages has coincided with the freedom between Sunday and Tuesday of about 200 prisoners, according to the Malian authorities. The Transitional Government of Mali, installed for a few days by the new military authorities of Bamako, this medal is hung although it is not clear what role he has played political change to unblock a situation after years of effort.
The details of the operation, the identity of the dozens of prisoners and the repercussions on the relations between power and the GSIM son unknown.
He conflict in Mali It has lasted since 2012 and has led to a spiral of violence. Along with the intercommunity tensions, has caused thousands of civilian and military deaths and has spread to neighbors Burkina Faso and Niger. The French and international forces They have been fighting in the region since 2013.