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French journalist kidnapped in 2021 is freed in Mali

March 20, 2023

Olivier Dubois had been held hostage by Islamist militants in Mali for nearly two years. He had traveled to the Malian city of Gao to interview members of a jihadist group.

An undated propaganda video circulating on social media shows French journalist Olivier Dubois
Olivier Dubois worked for several media, including the international TV channel France 24 and Liberation dailyImage: Social Media/AFP

French journalist Olivier Dubois who had been kidnapped in Mali has been freed, France's Liberation newspaper reported.

He arrived aboard a plane at Niamey airport in neighboring Niger, Agence France-Press (AFP) reported. US aid worker Jeffery Woodke, who had been kidnapped in Niger, was on the same flight.

Dubois is scheduled to arrive at France's Villacoublay airport later Monday, Liberation said.

The Liberation newspaper expressed "immense joy and relief" at the news of the freeing of its Mali correspondent.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he had spoken to Dubois, who was "in good health." He thanked Niger for helping to secure the release, which he described as a relief for the country, as well as Dubois's "loved ones and fellow journalists."

The Reporters Without Borders watchdog also welcomed the news and thanked French authorities for "having implemented the necessary means to obtain his release."

Who is Olivier Dubois?

Besides Liberation, Dubois was also a correspondent for Point and Jeune Afrique.

Dubois was kidnapped on April 8, 2021, in the Malian city of Gao, where had traveled to interview members of a jihadist group.

The journalist was kidnapped by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM), Liberation said.

Other kidnappings in the Sahel

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

Jihadi groups in the Sahel have been abducting hostages for a ransom as a way to fund operations.

At least 25 foreigners, and many more locals, have been kidnapped by militia groups in the region.

Mali has been grappling with an insurgency in the north of the country for over a decade.

sdi/rt (AFP, Reuters, AP)