BAMAKO, Mali — A dominant Malian politician and three European hostages freed by Islamic extremists in northern Mali this week landed at the nation’s capital late Thursday in which they held emotional reunions with family and have been greeted by police officers.
Their freedom arrived only days following the Malian government introduced almost 200 militants and sent by airplane to northern Mali, fueling speculation of an impending prisoner exchange that some fear might destabilize the nation. It wasn’t immediately known if a ransom was paid.
On Thursday night, the son of 75-year-old French humanitarian Sophie Petroni, who’d spent almost four decades in captivity, cried out for her since she made her way off the airplane. He swooped her feet in a huge hug, calling out”Mother! Mother!” Over and above.
The Malian authorities also made a surprise announcement two Italian nationals — Father Pierluigi Maccalli and Nicola Chiacchio — was published by the jihadists too.
All four released hostages were then attracted to a late-night reception in Mali’s presidential palace in which they met with dignitaries.
“I spent six months from… quite tough living circumstances, in virtually irreversible isolation, but I have to confess I wasn’t exposed to any violence, neither bodily nor verbal,” Cisse informed ORTM, Mali’s state broadcaster.
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted he had spoken by telephone with Petronin and could greet her upon her return to France on Friday.
Jihadists captured Chiacchio in central Mali this past year, based on Menastream, an independent threat and study consultancy company specializing in the Sahel and North Africa.
The hostages’ release came only days after Malian police freed nearly 200 jihadist offenders throughout the weekend, which had fueled speculation that a prisoner exchange was impending.
However, there was a 48-hour delay involving relatives of Cisse and Petronin who were notified and if the former hostages showed up to the flight in Tessalit. Malian authorities suggested their launch had occurred Tuesday.
Cisse suggested that the delay was a result of security conditions in northern Mali which had left it too dangerous for them to go to Tessalit for your flight.
Even though there was no immediate information on whether a ransom was paid, extremists groups from the Sahel have funded their associations through ransom payments made by European authorities, analysts say.
The al-Qaida-linked group called JNIM and its partners are still thought to be holding at least five other foreigners: Australian physician Ken Elliott, Colombian nun Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti, South African nationwide Christo Bothma, Swiss nationwide Beatrice Stockly, and Romanian citizen Julian Ghergut.
The three-time presidential candidate has been afterward re-elected into his parliament seat while in captivity and emerges because of the front-runner for its 2022 election.
Negotiations for his release appeared to stall following an Aug. 18 army coup overthrew democratically-elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who overcome Cisse in the 2013 and 2018 elections. The military junta has handed over power to a transitional government tasked with coordinating elections, even although the junta’s leader serves as president.