According to the German charity organisation Help, a German relief worker Jorg Lange who had been held captive in Niger Republic for more than four and a half years has been released.
The organisation made no mention of how or where Lange, a 63-year-old engineer, was released in a statement on Saturday.
In the borderlands where rebel groups, some with ties to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS), have long engaged in frequent attacks and kidnappings, armed men riding motorbikes abducted Lange in April 2018.
“We are very relieved and grateful that our colleague Jorg Lange can return to his family after more than four and a half years,” said Bianca Kaltschmitt, the organisation’s managing director.
Kaltschmit thanked the German Foreign Office and other German authorities, as well as “authorities and friends in Mali, Niger and neighbouring countries”.
Lange, an engineer by training, had spent more than 30 years working in the aid industry before he was abducted.
The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project estimates that since 2015, at least 25 foreigners and an unknown number of locals have been kidnapped in the Sahel region.
According to the organisation, five foreigners are being held hostage, including Reverend Hans-Joachim Lohre, a German clergyman who was abducted in November in Bamako, the capital of Mali.
The French journalist Olivier Dubois, who was taken last April from northern Mali, the American Jeffery Woodke, the Australian doctor Ken Elliott, and the Romanian Iulian Ghergut, who was taken from a mine in Burkina Faso and has been held since 2015, are among others who are currently being held.
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