Armed Islamic extremists kidnapped Sophie Pétronin in the city of Gao in December 2016. Pétronin, now 75, ran a charity for children suffering from malnutrition.
Malian politician Soumaïla Cissé was also released after being detained for nearly seven months, the country’s president’s office said. in a tweet.
French President Emmanuel Macron was “immensely relieved” to learn of Pétronin’s release, according to a statement released by the French government.
“The President of the Republic particularly thanks the Malian authorities for this release”
;, reads the statement. “He assures them of all the will of France to support Mali in the fight it is waging perseveringly against terrorism”.
Pétronin’s grandson Lionel Granouillac told CNN-affiliated BFM TV on Tuesday that her aunt had been released after being held captive for 1,381 days. It was only Thursday that the governments of Mali and France officially confirmed that she and Cissé had been released.
Pétronin’s son, Sébastien Chadaud-Pétronin, was in the country’s capital, Bamako, ready to greet his mother. He told France 24 on Tuesday that he was concerned about the state he would find her in.
“I expect to find someone sick, very weak. I hope he can still see, I don’t think he can stand up,” he said. “No matter what state she is in, I know she is still lucid. I can’t wait to see her again.”