Photo: PRESIDENCY OF MALI / copyright
A Colombian nun who was kidnapped by Islamists in Mali four years ago has been released.
Gloria Cecilia Narváez, from Pasto (Nariñado department, Colombia), was taken hostage in 2017 while working as a missionary in Koutiala, a commune about 400 kilometers east of Bamako, the capital of Mali.
Photos released by the Malian government this Saturday show the Franciscan nun, dressed in a yellow robe and a headscarf, meeting with interim President Assimi Goita.
As of early Sunday it was still unclear whether a ransom had been paid for her to be released.
A statement issued by the office of the President of Mali states that his release comes after more than four and a half years of “Combined efforts of various intelligence services.”
The document also praises the “courage and bravery”From Sister Gloria.
The Archbishop of Bamako, Jean Zerbo, also confirmed her release and told a group of journalists that the Colombian citizen was “fine.”
“We pray a lot for his release. I thank the Malian authorities and other good people who made this release possible, ”he added.
Zerbo told the AFP news agency that Narváez would travel to Rome soon.
In recent years there have been different reports on the safety of Gloria Cecilia Narváez. Earlier this year, two Europeans who managed to escape captivity assured that he was fine.
In March, her brother, Edgar Narváez received a letter from her confirming that she was still alive. At the beginning of this year, she explained to AFP that the note was written in capital letters “because she always used capital letters.”
More than 900 people kidnapped
Mali has been struggling to try to contain a growing Islamist insurgency that first emerged in the north of the country in 2012.
Kidnappings in particular have become more common in the country as the crisis has deepened.
According to the NGO Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, more than 935 people have been kidnapped in the country since 2017.
But Colonel Assimi Goita, who led a military coup that ousted the country’s civilian government last year, has tried to reassure Malians and the international community that his government is making efforts to realize the liberation of all people that are still captured.
Since 2004, French troops have led operations against Islamist groups in the region, however French President Emmanuel Macron announced in June that operations would be scaled back over the next year.
This has reportedly led the Malian government to turn to the Russian mercenary collective, the Wagner group, for help.
The secret group has been involved in conflicts in Africa, including fighting with a rebel general, Khalifa Haftar, in Libya.
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