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World News

Factbox: Foreign hostages held in West Africa's Sahel region

DAKAR (Reuters) - Four hostages including a prominent Malian politician, two Italians and French aid worker Sophie Petronin, have been released in Mali after negotiations led by the West African nation’s security services and international partners.

A supporter of of Malian politician Soumaila Cisse, who was freed from captivity in the hands of Islamist insurgents along with French aid worker Sophie Petronin and two Italians, celebrates with a poster of Cisse outside the airport in Bamako, Mali October 8, 2020. REUTERS/Amadou Keita

Following are details of the at least six foreign hostages still held by Islamist insurgents in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

MALI

*Beatrice Stockly

The Swiss missionary has been held hostage by Islamist militants in Mali since early 2016, when she was kidnapped by armed men from her home in the northern city of Timbuktu.

The militant group al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility three weeks later, releasing a video of Stockly that laid out the conditions for her release.

Stockly was kidnapped once before in 2012, but was released days later and returned to her missionary work.

*Gloria Cecilia Argoti

The Colombian nun has been held hostage since February 2017, when she was seized by armed men from Mali’s southern region of Karangasso. She had been working in a health centre there, about 300 km (186 miles) east of the capital Bamako.

BURKINA FASO

*Ken Elliot

The Australian doctor and his wife Jocelyn were captured in January 2016 in the town of Djibo near Burkina Faso’s border with Mali, where they had operated a 120-bed clinic for over 40 years. Jocelyn was released after three weeks in captivity, but her husband, who is in his 80s, remains in captivity.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

*Iulian Ghergut

Ghergut, a Romanian citizen, was kidnapped from a mine in Burkina Faso in April 2015.

Two years later, Al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group JNIM released a video purporting to show six western hostages. The Romanian foreign ministry confirmed one of the captives was Ghergut.

NIGER

*Jeffery Woodke

The U.S. aid worker has been missing since October 2016, when gunmen raided his house in central Niger, killing his guard and housekeeper before driving him across the desert towards Mali.

Woodke worked for a local NGO called JEMED and had lived in Niger since 1992.

*Joerg Lange

Armed men on motorcycles kidnapped the German aid worker in April 2018 about 25 kilometres (15 miles) south of the town of Inates in western Niger near the border with Mali.

Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Bate Felix and Catherine Evans

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