“The kidnappers therefore decided to abandon the vehicle somewhere in the bush and, thanks to the mediation of local Dogon and Fulani notables, they agreed to free their five hostages, who had become very cumbersome,” Mr. Dembélé has been quoted as saying.
The group of five went missing June 21 while travelling from Ségué in the centre of the country to take part in the funeral of Fr. Oscar Thera in the town of San, Fr. Alexis Dembélé was quoted as saying Tuesday, June 22.
Mali, a country with a population of 19.66 million people has reportedly experienced a surge in violence involving both civilians and the military since 2012. Since then, abductions have become more persistent in the nation with militants seeking either to get ransoms or to exert political pressure.
The attacks orchestrated by independent militia and jihadists linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State, as well as inter-communal violence, have left thousands dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.
The violence has spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
Sr. Gloria Cecilia Narvaez Argot, a member of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate, kidnapped in the Catholic Diocese of Sikasso in Southern Mali in 2017 is believed to be in the hands of jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda.
The situation is further complicated by political instability in the West African nation.
The West African nation is currently under the leadership of Colonel Assimi Goita who led two coups in a span of nine months, first ousting the country’s elected President last August and, most recently, the interim leaders who were to head the country’s transitional government.
Following the May 24 coup, Mali’s constitutional court named Colonel Goita transitional President of Mali until the West African nation holds elections to replace the country’s elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita who was ousted in August last year.
The move attracted criticism and condemnation, with the Catholic Church leaders in the country naming it “seizure of power outside the legal process.”