, Paris, Apr 6 – A Dutch national kidnapped nearly four years ago in northern Mali’s Timbuktu by AQIM Islamists was freed Monday in a French military operation, France’s defence ministry said.
“The Dutch hostage Sjaak Rijke, kidnapped in Timbuktu on November 25, 2011” was freed during “military action carried out by the French army’s special forces”, it said in a statement.
“This combat action has also led to the capture of several individuals,” added the ministry.
Gunmen had stormed into Rijke’s hotel capturing him as well as a South African and a Swede, both of whom are still being held.
In November 2014, AQIM released a video of Rijke making a statement on the 1,000th day of his captivity.
Also seen on the video was Frenchman Serge Lazarevic, who was later freed in a prisoner swap against four jihadists in Mali.