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Church official says kidnapped German priest freed in Mali

by Reuters Journalist

German missionary Father Hans Joachim Lohre who was kidnapped in Mali's capital Bamako last year has been freed by his captor, a church official told Reuters on Sunday.

Patient Nshombo of the Missionaries for Africa told Reuters by telephone that Lohre had been released. 

"Yes, he has been freed, but we have to wait for further details from the authorities," Nshombo said. 

The government of Mali did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the German foreign office declined to comment.

Lohre, who had been living in Bamako for 30 years, was meant to celebrate mass on a Sunday morning in the Malian capital last year when his colleagues noticed that his car remained parked in front of his house and his telephone was switched off.    

 He taught in the Malian capital at the Institut de formation islamo-chrétienne, which receives students from Africa. He was also the national secretary of a commission for inter-religious dialogue.

Lohre is the second German to be freed in less than a year in the Sahel region, following the release in December 2022 of German humanitarian Jörg Lange, who was kidnapped on 11 April 2018 in western Niger in a region bordering Mali that is plagued by jihadist activity.

A number of foreign hostages, including a South African and an Italian couple and their son remain held in the Sahel acccording to its government. 

Since 2012, Mali has been plagued by the spread of jihadism and violence of all kinds, of which kidnappings are one aspect, whether of foreigners or Malians.

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