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French journalist Olivier Dubois was freed Monday after being held hostage by Islamic extremists for nearly two years in Mali.
The release was announced by French President Emmanuel Macron and media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which campaigned for his release.
Dubois was kidnapped in April 2021 from Northern Mali, a region of the country wracked by jihadi violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.
“Olivier Dubois is free,” Macron tweeted Monday. A subsequent tweet read, “I have just spoken with Olivier Dubois: he is in good health. Immense relief for the Nation, for his relatives and fellow journalists. Great gratitude to Niger for this release.”
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“I feel tired, but I’m fine,” Dubois said as he got off a plane at Niamey airport, according to France 24. “It’s huge for me to be here, to be free, I wanted to pay tribute to Niger for its know-how in this delicate mission and to pay tribute to France and to all those who allowed me to be here today.”
Dubois was reportedly the last French hostage recorded in the world since the release of Sophie Pétronin in October 2020. He worked for Liberation, Le Point and Jeune Afrique.
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“We feel joy and immense relief,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.
It thanked French authorities for “having implemented the necessary means to obtain his release,” without elaborating.
Dubois’ release came the same day that two kidnaped aid workers with the International Committee of the Red Cross were freed in Mali.
French journalist Olivier Dubois, left, who has been held hostage in the West Africa Sahel for nearly two years, and U.S. aid worker Jeffery Woodke who was held hostage for over six years listen to Niger’s Interior Minister Hamadou Adamou Souley, center, after they were released in Niamey, Niger March 20, 2023. (REUTERS/Stringer)
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Jihadi groups have been abducting hostages for ransom as a way to fund their operations and expand their presence. At least 25 foreigners and untold numbers of locals have been kidnapped in the Sahel — the vast, semi-arid expanse below the Sahara Desert — since 2015, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.