| 11 December 2023, Monday |

French, US hostages released after years of captivity in West Africa

At a press conference in Niger on Monday to announce the release of him and American charity worker Jeffery Woodke, who had been held hostage in West Africa for years by Islamist terrorists, Olivier Dubois received hugs from tearful reporters.

Woodke was abducted in neighboring Niger in 2016, while Dubois was abducted in Mali in 2021.

In a video dated last August, Dubois pleaded with officials to take all necessary steps to liberate him from his captors.

Some journalists embraced him upon arrival at the briefing at the airport in the capital Niamey, moved by the sight of their peer, who worked for Liberation and Le Point magazine.

“It’s huge for me to be here today,” said Dubois, smiling as he answered questions. “I wasn’t expecting it at all. I feel tired but I’m well.”

Woodke, a Christian humanitarian worker, thanked God as well as the Nigerien, U.S. and French authorities for helping with his rescue.

“Greetings to my family,” he said at the briefing.

Flanked by the two men, Niger’s interior minister Hamadou Adamou Souley told journalists: “After several months of efforts, Nigerien authorities obtained the liberation of the two hostages from the hands of (JNIM), an active terrorist group in West Africa and the Sahel.”

JNIM is a West Africa-based affiliate of al Qaeda.

French President Emmanuel Macron thanked Niger for its help in securing Dubois’ release.

“I have just spoken to Olivier Dubois: he is good health,” Macron said on Twitter.

  • Reuters