French journalist kidnapped in Mali in 2021 is freed

PARIS (AP) — A French journalist held hostage by Islamic extremists for nearly two years in Mali was released Monday, according to the French president and media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which campaigned for his release.

Olivier Dubois was kidnapped in April 2021 from northern Mali, a region of the country wracked by jihadi violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted Monday: “Olivier Dubois is free.” He did not elaborate. The conditions of Dubois’ release, including whether it involved a ransom, were not disclosed.

“We feel joy and immense relief,” Reporters Without Borders, also known by its French acronym RSF, said in a statement.

It thanked French authorities for “having implemented the necessary means to obtain his release,” without elaborating.

Dubois' release came the same day that two kidnapped aid workers with the International Committee of the Red Cross were freed in Mali.

Jihadi groups have been abducting hostages for ransom as a way to fund their operations and expand their presence. At least 25 foreigners and untold numbers of locals have been kidnapped in the Sahel — the vast, semi-arid expanse below the Sahara Desert — since 2015, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

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