Freed Hostages Thank Mali President In Palace Visit
A senior government official and a journalist who were freed from suspected jihadi kidnappers met the Mali president on Wednesday, as authorities said a third hostage had died.
Makan Doumbia, the prefect of Tenenkou commune in central Mali and journalist Issiaka Tamboura were received by Ibrahim Boubacar Keita at the presidential palace for lunch following their ordeals.
Doumbia, the most senior government representative in the commune, was abducted in the Mopti region on May 8 last year, while Tamboura was taken in central Mali in December.
Both were released on Monday "thanks to an action by state security", a source told AFP.
The two men thanked Keita for "all the efforts made by his government in the happy outcome of the situation in which their lives were in danger", the president's office said.
In a separate statement, the government said their release was "the fruit of a long process initiated to save their lives", without giving details.
However, Mali's justice minister said that another hostage who was kidnapped in November 2017 -- an unnamed judge from Niono -- had died.
Islamist militias linked to Al-Qaeda seized the north of Mali in 2012, but were pushed back by French troops the following year.
A peace agreement signed in 2015 by the Bamako government and armed groups was aimed at restoring stability.
However the accord has failed to stop violence by Islamist militants -- who have also staged attacks in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.