AFRICA/MALI - One year after his kidnapping in Bamako: The German missionary Hans-Joachim Lohre is free"

Monday, 27 November 2023 kidnappings   missionaries  

Bamako (Agenzia Fides) - The German Father Hans Joachim Lohre of the “White Fathers” (African Missionaries), who was kidnapped in Mali on Sunday, November 20, 2022 (see Fides 22/11/2022), is free. A year after his abduction, the missionary was released yesterday, Sunday, November 26th. The circumstances of his release are still unclear. Father Lohre's release was announced on Sunday by a representative of the Malian government and two representatives of the Archdiocese of Bamako, who wished to remain anonymous. The release was reportedly negotiated directly by the German government, and the missionary, after being released by his captors and handed over to the Malian authorities, was immediately taken into custody by representatives of the German authorities and taken to Germany overnight on a special flight. Germany still maintains its own contingent of soldiers in Mali as part of the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA, which is expected to cease its activities by the end of the year, as demanded by the military who came to power in a coup in 2020. The 66-year-old Father Hans-Joachim Lohre, also known as "Ha-Jo", has lived in Mali for more than 30 years, where he taught, among other things, at the Islamic-Christian Training Institute (IFIC) and was responsible for the Faith and Encounter Center in Hamdallaye. On the day of the kidnapping, the missionary was supposed to celebrate mass in the Kalaban Coura parish. His car was parked outside his home, and investigators later found the priest's severed cross necklace next to his vehicle. No claim of responsibility was made for the abduction, but diplomatic and security sources attributed it to the al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (Jama'at Nasr al-Islam, JNIM). Father Lohre is the second German to be released in the Sahel in less than a year, following the release in December 2022 of aid worker Jörg Lange, who was kidnapped on April 1, 2018 in western Niger, on the border with Mali. A number of foreign hostages, including a South African and an Italian couple with their son, remain held in the Sahel. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 27/11/2023)