A Franciscan nun from Colombia kidnapped by jihadis in Mali in 2017 was freed Saturday, a statement from Mali’s presidential office 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.
In the official statement, Malian strongman Colonel Assimi Goita assured the Malian people and the international community that “efforts are under way” to secure the release of all those still being held in Mali.
The archbishop of Bamako, Jean Zerbo, confirmed Narvaez’s release, adding 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,” the archbishop said.
Her brother, Edgar Narvaez, also confirmed her release in a brief conversation with AFP.
“She is in good health, thank God. They sent me pictures and she looks well,” he said.
Narvaez was taken hostage on February 7, 2017, at Koutiala, 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of the Malian capital, Bamako, while working as a missionary there.
There were irregular reports about her over the years, including at the beginning of 2021, when two Europeans who managed to escape captivity reported that she was well.
Then in March, her brother received a letter passed on from the Red Cross. It was written in capital letters “because she always used capital letters,” contained the names of their parents, and ended with her signature, he told AFP earlier this year.
Mali has been struggling to contain a jihadist insurgency that emerged in the north of the country in 2012 and that has since spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
Kidnappings, once rare, have become more common in recent years as a security crisis has deepened in Mali, particularly in the center of the former French colony.