(Bamako) The Malian presidency announced today, Saturday, the release of the Colombian Franciscan nun, Sister Gloria Cecilia Navarrez, who was kidnapped by a jihadist in February 2017 in Mali.
In a press release, the Mali Presidency praised the “courage and courage of the sister,” stressing that this release is “the culmination of four years and eight months of the concerted efforts of several intelligence services.”
“I thank the financial authorities, the president and all the financial authorities for all the efforts they made to release me. God bless you, God bless Mali,” the nun said on Financial Public Television.
She appeared alongside the interim president, Colonel Assimi Goïta, the Archbishop of Bamako, Monsignor Jean Zerbo.
Bishop Zerbo told AFP that the nun was “fine”. We prayed a lot for his release. I thank the financial authorities and other goodwill that made this release possible.
Gloria Cecilia Narváez is part of the Franciscans of Mary Immaculate, a congregation of Swiss origin founded in 1893 and present in 17 countries.
She was kidnapped on February 7, 2017, near Koutiala, 400 km east of Bamako. She then worked as a missionary for six years in the Diocese of Karangaso with three other nuns.
According to one of her classmates, Sister Carmen Isabel Valencia, Sister Gloria Cecilia Navarrez voluntarily surrendered to her captors as they prepared to kidnap two young nuns. “I’m the boss, take me,” she said, according to the colleague.
The hostage’s former brother said he was transferred after receiving confirmation of his release. In a brief interview with AFP, Edgar Narvaez responded, “Thank God she is in good health, they have sent me pictures and she is looking good.”
For his part, the President of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia, Bishop Mario de Jesus Alvarez Gómez, expressed his “great joy”.
“I am very happy with the news of the release in Mali of our dear compatriot, Sister Gloria Cecilia Narváez, a goal we have set for ourselves within the national government and for which we have worked with President (Colombian Ivan) Duque for so many, Colombian Foreign Minister Marta Lucia Ramirez said in a statement.
NSI Ramirez stressed the “humanitarian efforts of the French government to contribute to this success.”
A source close to the mediation told AFP that the nun was not mistreated during her detention and that she had learned the Qur’an. We will not tell the details. This source said that the negotiations continued for months and years.
An official at Bamako airport, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP that Gloria arrived in the Malian capital on Saturday evening, where she was due to fly to Rome. The diocese of the city confirmed the departure of the Colombian woman from Bamako.
Sister Gloria Narvaez explained, in a letter sent by the Red Cross last July to her brother, that she had been arrested by a “group of GSIM”, the support group for Islam and Muslims, linked to al-Qaeda.
Kidnappings are common in Mali, a coastal country that has been in turmoil since independence and jihadist rebellions broke out in the north in 2012. The conflict has left thousands dead and hundreds of thousands displaced, despite the intervention of UN, French and African forces.
French journalist Olivier Dubois was kidnapped in early April in northern Mali by jihadists affiliated with al-Qaeda.
“Extreme twitteraholic. Passionate travel nerd. Hardcore zombie trailblazer. Web fanatic. Evil bacon geek.”