Mali’s president said on Saturday that a Colombian nun who was kidnapped by al-Qaeda-linked extremists in Mali more than four years ago has been freed.
Gloria Narvaez was kidnapped in February 2017 near Mali’s border with Burkina Faso.
“The presidency of Mali salutes the courage and bravery of this nun,” the president of Mali said in a statement.
The terms of his release have not been disclosed.
Narvez was captured by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which released several videos in which she sought help from the Vatican.
Photos on the Twitter page of the Malian presidency showed Narvez in a yellow dress and dupatta holding hands and smiling. He is also shown meeting with Asimi Goita, the interim president of Mali.
Liberation C Magazines 09 October de la Sur Religious Colombian Gloria Narvez. El avet et enlevi le 7 favier 2017 Carangasso, dans le cercal de coutiala a la frontier entre le mali et le Burkina Faso.
La Presidence du Mali Salue le Courage et la Brevore de la Sur. pic.twitter.com/xIDiIhzjMR
— Presidency Mali (@PresidenceMali) October 9, 2021
“First of all I thank God, who is light and peace, I thank the Malian authorities, the President, for all the efforts so that I can be free,” Narvaez said in a brief statement on state TV. “God bless you, God bless the gardener. Thank you so much on my behalf.”
She further said that even when she was in captivity for about five years, she remained in good health.
“I thank the people of Karangaso for their prayers and all the effort they have made for my release. And I apologize to all the gardeners, to all those who may not have been well (because of me). “
The al-Qaeda-linked group is still holding several other Westerners, including an American pastor kidnapped in Niger and a French journalist.
Mali has been trying to curb Islamic extremist extremism since 2012. Extremist rebels were forced from power in Mali’s northern cities with the help of a 2013 French-led military operation. However, the rebels quickly regrouped in the desert and launched relentless attacks on the insurgent-fighting Malian army and its allies.
The extremists have expanded their reach in central Mali.