Mali: release of a kidnapped German Catholic cleric in 2022

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A Catholic priest of German nationality, Father Hans-Joachim Lohre, who disappeared in November 2022 in Mali and considered kidnapped, has been released, two archdiocese and government officials said on Sunday.

“Priest Hans-Joachim Lohre, kidnapped on November 20, 2022, was released this Sunday. He is on the plane for his country,” an archdiocese official told AFP, speaking under the cover of anonymity according to common use in hostage cases. A government official confirmed the information, also on condition of anonymity.

No details were provided on the state of health of the priest, nor the conditions of his detention and his release.

Father Hans-Joachim Lohre had disappeared while he was supposed to celebrate mass in a district of Bamako. He was since considered to have been the victim of a kidnapping, common in Mali but exceptional in the capital.

However, the AFP is not aware of any claims to which his kidnapping has been the subject.

Nicknamed "Ha-Jo", the German priest, member of the Society of Missionaries of Africa, known as the White Fathers, had lived in Mali for around thirty years. He taught in the Malian capital at the Islamic-Christian Training Institute, which receives students from Africa. He was also national secretary of an interreligious dialogue commission. 

This is the second German released in less than a year in the Sahel, after the release in December 2022 of German humanitarian Jörg Lange, kidnapped on April 11, 2018 in western Niger in a region bordering Mali in the grip of to jihadist actions.

A certain number of foreign hostages, including a South African and an Italian couple and their son, remain detained in the Sahel, according to a count only covering cases made public by their entourage or their 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. The motivations, ideological or villainous, range from the demand for ransom to the act of reprisal through the desire to bargain.

Writing (with AFP)

Image credit: Shutterstock / wideonet

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