Gloria Cecilia Narvaez was released on Saturday after more than four years in captivity. She was kidnapped by the Macina Liberation Front, a group linked to al-Qaeda, in February 2017 near the border with Burkina Faso.
“The presidency of Mali salutes the courage and bravery of the nun. This release is the crowning of four years and eight months of combined efforts by several intelligence services, ”the presidency said in a statement.
Photos posted on the presidency’s Twitter feed showed Narvaez, smiling and wearing a yellow dress and headscarf, meeting with interim president of Mali Assimi Goita.
Release this day October 09 of the Colombian religious sister Gloria NARVAEZ. She was kidnapped on February 7, 2017 in Karangasso, in the Koutiala circle on the border between Mali and Burkina Faso.
The Presidency of Mali salutes the courage and bravery of the sister. pic.twitter.com/xIDiIhzjMR
– Mali Presidency (@PresidenceMali) October 9, 2021
The kidnapping has been a lucrative source of money for armed groups in the Sahel region of West Africa, where they are leading a growing insurgency against national armies, French forces and peacekeepers from the UN.
The presidency did not say whether a ransom had been paid for Narvaez.
Mali has struggled since 2012 to contain violence linked to al-Qaeda and groups affiliated with ISIL. Fighters have now expanded their operations from their strongholds in the country’s northern desert to its center as well as neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
In April, a French journalist was kidnapped in northern Mali. In a video taken hostage, Olivier Dubois said the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), the largest alliance of armed groups in the Sahel, had kidnapped him.
Gunmen abducted three Chinese nationals and two Mauritanians from a construction site in southwestern Mali in July.