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German priest freed by al-Qaeda-linked captors in Mali

A German priest who was abducted by al-Qaida-linked rebels in Mali’s capital in November 2022 has been released by his captors, a former colleague told The Associated Press on Monday.

Church members in the capital of Bamako learned of the release of Rev. Hans-Joachim Lohre late on Sunday, according to Dia Monique Pare, a former colleague who had confirmed his kidnapping. There were few details about his release.

“Yesterday, while we were at Mass, a member of priest Hans-Joachim Lohre’s family told us that they had good news about the priest,” Pare said.

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The German Foreign Office on Monday confirmed Lohre’s release and said he had arrived in Germany, German news agency dpa reported.

It was not immediately known if a ransom was paid.

Lohre was abducted by al-Qaida-linked rebels in Bamako. It was the first time that militants had seized a foreigner in the African country’s capital since their insurgency began more than a decade ago. Other foreign religious figures have been abducted in more remote parts of the country.

Lohre, who has been in Mali for more than 30 years, teaches at the Institute of Islamic-Christian Training.

The military government of the West African nation has been struggling to end armed rebellion in parts of the country. Compounding the violence are increasing attacks by Islamic extremists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.

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