Colombian nun kidnapped in Mali in 2017 set free

Malian officials say extremists have released Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez

A Franciscan nun from Colombia kidnapped by religious extremists in Mali in 2017 was freed on Saturday, Malian officials said.

The statement on the presidential Twitter account paid tribute to the courage of Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez, who was held for four years and eight months.

Malian strongman and 2020 coup leader Col Assimi Goita, acting president of the country since June, assured fellow Malians and the international community that "efforts are under way" to secure the release of all those still being held in the country.

The archbishop of Bamako, Jean Zerbo, confirmed Sister Narvaez's release and said she was doing well.

"We prayed a lot for her release. I thank the Malian authorities and other good people who made this release possible," the archbishop said.

Her brother, Edgar Narvaez, also confirmed the release during a brief conversation with AFP.

"She is in good health, thank God. They sent me pictures and she looks well," he said.

Sister Narvaez was taken hostage in February 2017 in Koutiala, about 400 kilometres (250 miles) east of the Malian capital Bamako, while working as a missionary there.

There were sporadic reports about her over the years, including the release of a video showing her caring for fellow hostage French aid worker Sophie Petronin in 2018.

At the beginning of this year, two European who escaped after being been held hostage with her reported that she was well.

Then, in March, her brother received proof from the Red Cross that she was still alive.

It was a letter written in capital letters "because she always used capital letters" containing the names of their parents and ending with her signature, he told AFP earlier this year.

Mali has been struggling to contain an extremist insurgency that first emerged in the north of the country in 2012, and which has since spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Kidnappings, once rare, have become more common in recent years as security crisis deepened, particularly in the centre of the former French colony.

Updated: October 10th 2021, 6:14 AM