French and American prisoners released in West Africa after years of captivity

French and American prisoners released in West Africa after years of captivity
Image: Reuters

The announment of the release of French journalist Olivier Dubois and American aid worker Jeffery Woodke, who had been held prisoner by Islamic terrorists in West Africa for years was made during a press conference in Niger on Monday.

Dubois was kidnapped in Mali in 2021 while Woodke was taken hostage in neigbouring Niger in 2016.

Several journalists welcomed their colleague from Liberation and Le Point magazine upon seeing him arrive at the Niamey airport briefing.

As he received inquiries, Dubois added with a wide grin, “My presence today is crucial.” “I had no expectation of this. Despite my fatigue, I am in good health.”

Woodke, a Christian charity worker, thanked God, the governments of Niger, the United States, and France for their participation in his freedom.

At the briefing, he exclaimed, “Hello, family!”

Niger’s interior minister Hamadou Adamou Souley, who was accompanied by the two men, told reporters, “After several months of operations, Nigerien authorities rescued the two captives from JNIM, an active terrorist group in West Africa and the Sahel.”

The JNIM is a branch of al Qaeda in West Africa. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, thanked Niger for its aid in releasing Dubois. Macron said on Twitter, “I just spoke with Olivier Dubois; he is in good health.”

“No ransom was paid”

According to a senior U.S. official, no ransom or “quid pro quo” was involved in Woodke’s release. There was also no direct talks with the terrorist organization that kept Woodke.

The official, who spoke to the press on the condition of anonymity, stated that it was unclear where Woodke was held during his whole incarceration, although he was known to have been in other cities and countries.

According to the senior administration official, Woodke was released from captivity outside of Niger, and Niger had a part in the operations that led to the release of a second American held captive by the same network.

According to a State Department source, Suellen Tennyson was abducted in Burkina Faso in April of last year and freed in August.

The National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, tweeted his “gratification and pleasure” after the release of American hostage Jeff Woodke. He had been held captive for almost six years. The United States would like to thank Niger for its support in returning him to his family and friends.

Islamist militants with connections to al Qaeda and Islamic State have advanced throughout the Sahel region over the past decade. Thousands have been killed and over two million people have abandoned their homes, abduction has become a common tactic.

The French military involvement in 2012 forced them back. They have repeatedly targeted French people in West Africa as targets.

This due to popular notion that French government would offer sums of money in exchange for the release of prisoners. The French government has always denied these allegations.


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