In 2017, Gloria Cecilia Narváez was kidnapped while serving as a missionary in Koutiala, roughly 400 kilometers east of Bamako.
The Franciscan nun was photographed meeting with temporary president Assimi Goita, who was clothed in yellow robes and a hijab, according to photos released by the Malian presidency on Saturday.
It’s unclear if a ransom was paid in exchange for her release.
Her release happened after more than four and a half years in detention, according to a statement posted by the president’s office.
Jean Zerbo, the Archbishop of Bamako, also verified her release, telling reporters that 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,” he said.
Ms Narváez will now fly to Rome, Archbishop Zerbo told the AFP news agency.
Over the years, there have been sporadic reports about Ms Narváez’s safety. Two Europeans who managed to flee prison earlier this year indicated that she was OK.
Her brother received a letter from her in March confirming her survival. The note was written in block capitals “because she usually used capital letters,” he told AFP earlier this year, and carried the names of their parents before closing with her signature.
Mali has been fighting a growing Islamist insurgency since it first appeared in the country’s north in 2012. As the security issue has worsened, kidnappings have grown more regular in the former French colony.
Since 2017, more than 935 people have been abducted in the country, according to the NGO Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.
Colonel Assimi Goita, who spearheaded the military coup that deposed Mali’s democratic government last year, has sought to reassure Malians and the international world that efforts are being made to secure the release of all those currently detained.
Since 2014, French troops have led operations in the region against Islamist extremists, but President Emmanuel Macron indicated in June that operations will be scaled back in the coming year.
According to reports, the Malian government has sought aid from the Wagner organization, a Russian mercenary collective. The mysterious force has been active in conflicts all throughout Africa, especially in Libya, where it fought a rebel general named Khalifa Haftar.
Curled from BBC News