Colombian Nun Kidnapped By Mali Terrorists In 2017 Freed
Faizan Hashmi 2 months ago Sun 10th October 2021 | 09:30 AM
A statement on the presidential Twitter account paid tribute to her "courage and bravery" along with photos of the nun taken after her release Saturday.
"I thank the Malian authorities, the president, all the Malian authorities, for all the efforts you've made to liberate me, may God bless you, may God bless Mali," Sister Gloria said in images broadcast on state television showing her with Mali's interim president Colonel Assimi Goita and the archbishop of Bamako Jean Zerbo.
"I am very happy, I stayed healthy for five years, thank God," the nun said, smiling and wearing a yellow robe.
Her liberation had been the fruit of "four years and eight months of the combined effort of several intelligence services", the presidency said.
Archbishop Zerbo said Sister Gloria 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.
According to one of her colleagues, Sister Carmen Isabel Valencia, she offered herself in place of two younger nuns the kidnappers were preparing to take.
"She is in good health, thank God. They sent me pictures and she looks well," he told AFP.
In a letter sent last July by the Red Cross to her brother, Sister Gloria said she was held by "a group of GSIM", the Al-Qaeda-linked Group to Support islam and Muslims, the largest militants alliance in the Sahel.
A source close to the negotiations to release her told AFP she had not been ill-treated during her captivity and during that time she had learned the Koran.
"The negotiations lasted months, years," said the source, without giving further details.
- Bound for Rome - An official at Bamako airport, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP the nun had arrived in the Malian capital on Saturday evening from where she was due to fly to Rome. Her departure from Bamako was confirmed by the city's archdiocese.
In Colombia, Vice-President Marta Lucia Ramirez -- who is also foreign minister -- said she was "very happy" at Sister Gloria's release, which she attributed to the work of the government and also stressed the "humanitarian efforts of the French government to contribute to this success".
National police director Jorge Luis Vargas also welcomed her release.
Vargas said meetings had been held with several European and African ambassadors to try to secure the nun's release.
"With Interpol, and with other international organisations, we have always sought to bring those responsible to justice." There were irregular reports about the nun over the years, including at the beginning of 2021, when two Europeans who managed to escape captivity reported that she was well.
It was a letter written in capital letters "because she always used capital letters", containing the Names of their parents and ending with her signature, he told AFP earlier this year.
Kidnappings, once rare, have become more common in recent years as a security crisis has deepened in Mali, particularly in the centre of the former French colony.
Dubois, who worked with several French news outlets, said in a hostage video that GSIM had abducted him.