Written by 4:44 pm In the News

US aid worker, journalist freed

Jeff Woodke, an American aid worker who was held hostage by militants in Niger for more than six years, has been released, along with French journalist Olivier Dubois, who was kidnapped by militants from Mali.

Woodke, from California, has served as a missionary and aid worker in Niger for over 30 years. In Oct. 2016, a group of men held him at gunpoint at his home. The men then forced Woodke into a trunk and drove toward the border of Mali.

Dubois, who was a correspondent for French news outlets, was kidnapped in Gao, Mali, in April 2021 by a group affiliated with Al Qaeda, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported.

Woodke and Dubois appeared together before reporters in Niger’s capital Niamey on Monday.

The group Bring Jeffrey Woodke Home said Woodke’s wife, Els, was informed that her husband was freed.

“She has expressed her profound thanks to the many people in governments and others around the world who have worked so hard to see this result” .

Dubois told reporters it was “amazing for me to be here, to be free,” adding, “I feel tired, but I’m fine,” the BBC reported him as saying.

“I want to pay tribute to Niger for its skills in this delicate mission and pay tribute to France, to all those who have helped me to be here today,” he said.

At a press conference Mr Blinken welcomed their release :

“I have no higher priority or focus than bringing home any unjustly detained American, wherever that is in the world. We won’t rest until they’re all home and, like Jeffery, reunited with their families.”

Nigerian Interior Minister, Hamadou Souley, said that Mr Woodke and Mr Dubois had been freed from the hands of JNIM, a West Africa-based affiliate of Al Qaeda, after several months of work by the country’s authorities.

(Picture Courtesy: AFP)

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