French aid worker in captivity for four years
French aid worker Sophie Petronin, 75, disappeared after jihadists kidnapped her on Christmas Eve 2016 in Mali. Her release means there are no more French hostages being held in the world.
– 2016: Nabbed in Mali –
On December 24, 2016, Petronin is abducted in the northern Malian city of Gao, where she worked for a charity aiding malnourished children. The region is unstable and a hunting ground for jihadists.
On July 1, 2017, Al-Qaeda’s Mali branch releases a proof-of-life video of six foreign hostages, including Petronin.
On March 2, 2018, Petronin appears in a short video which suggests that she is in ill health. Her family meets officials at the French foreign ministry the next day.
On June 6 a seven-minute video shows her appearing weak and emaciated as she appeals to French President Emmanuel Macron to help her.
Macron says he will not let up efforts to find her.
– 2018: Health concerns –
On September 6 Petronin, now in captivity for 20 months, calls again for help from Macron in a video with fellow hostage, Colombian nun Sister Gloria Narvaez Argoti.
On November 11 the kidnappers say her health has deteriorated while the French government says it is “deeply concerned”.
On December 11 Petronin’s son, Sebastien Chadaud, says French officials rejected an offer from her abductors.
– 2019: ‘Not forgotten’ –
On March 31 family members say there is “reliable” proof that Petronin is alive.
On April 28, her son says France has taken “the decision to sacrifice my mother”.
On May 14 Macron says France has “not forgotten” her.
– 2020: Freedom finally? –
On October 4 hopes are raised that Petronin and abducted Malian opposition leader Soumaila Cisse may soon be released after Mali’s new government frees scores of jihadists.
On October 7, after months of speculation, there is talk in Bamako that both Cisse and Petronin could be released “imminently”, possibly in exchange for captured jihadists.
On October 8, the office of Mali’s president says both have been released and are on their way to Bamako.