Militants in Mali Free 4 Hostages After Government Releases Prisoners

DAKAR — Four hostages held by armed insurgents in Mali were freed on Thursday, days after the country’s newly-formed Malian government released around 200 prisoners, including some suspected of being jihadists.

The four hostages released included Soumaïla Cissé, a prominent Malian politician, Sophie Pétronin, a French aid worker who had been held for almost four years, and two Italians: Pierluigi Maccalli, a priest abducted in neighboring Niger in 2018, and Nicola Chiacchio, who was kidnapped last year during a solo bicycle trip.

The government, which took power in September following a military coup, announced the releases Thursday evening. It said they had been secured thanks to the efforts of the country’s intelligence services, the armed forces, Mali’s partners and a special crisis unit led by a former prime minister, but it did not provide details of the conditions under which the hostages were released.

The government’s release of prisoners last

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