A Swedish national captured in Mali by al-Qaida was finally freed Monday after being held hostage for more than five years.
Johan Gustafsson was kidnapped by the terrorist group in Timbuktu, Mali back in November 2011. He was captured along with South African Stephen McGowan and Dutchman Sjaak Rijke while the three were at their hotel.
Rijke was released by French security forces in April 2015, but McGowan is still being held.
“It is with great pleasure that I can announce that Johan Gustafsson has been released and can return to Sweden. Johan’s situation has touched many of us and extensive efforts have been made to get him released,” Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström welcomed the news of Gustafsson’s release in a statement.
The Swedish foreign minister told Swedish Radio that “he is doing well and is overwhelmed by everything going on.”
While the details of the Swede’s release are not immediately clear, Wallström added that his release was thanks to “extensive efforts” by the Swedish foreign ministry, police and “foreign authorities.”
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is known for its kidnapping of Westerners, as the group aims to eliminate all Western influence in North Africa.
Gustafsson is now being flown back to Sweden from northern Africa.
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