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Freed Italian hostages return home from Mali

POLITICS
Freed Italian hostages return home from Mali

Italy's foreign minister Luigi Di Maio and premier Giuseppe Conte on Friday met freed Italian hostages Father Pierluigi Maccalli and Nicola Chiacchio at Rome's Ciampino airport where they arrived from Mali after their release.


"Wonderful news: Father Pier Luigi Maccalli and Nicola Chiacchio have finally been freed and are well. They were kidnapped by a jihadist group. Thank you to AISE (Italy's foreign intelligence service) and all those who worked to bring them home," Di Maio tweeted earlier.

Rome prosecutors were due to question Maccalli and Chiacchio later on Friday. The pair is believed to be held by the same Al-Qaeda linked group after a video was released of them together in April.

Maccalli, a missionary, was taken in September 2018 in Niger, close to the Burkina Faso border. Chiacchio is thought to have been a tourist when he was captured in central Mali in 2019.

Maccalli and Chiacchio were freed at the same time as prominent Malian politician Soumaila Cisse, who was seized in March in northern Mali and a French aid worker, Sophie Petronin, who was abducted in the same region in 2016 while working at an orphanage.

There was no immediate information on whether a ransom was paid.

The hostages' release is a significant victory for Mali’s interim leadership who are overseeing an 18-month transition back to civilian rule after the Aug. 18 military coup against democratically elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.



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