German missionary Father Hans Joachim Lohre who was kidnapped in Mali's capital Bamakoin 2022 has been freed by his captors after he disappeared more than one year ago, a church official has said.
Patient Nshombo of the Missionaries for Africa, often known as the White Fathers, told Reuters news agency on Nov. 26 by telephone that Lohre who worked in Mali for decades had been released.
"Yes, he has been freed, but we have to wait for further details from the authorities," Nshombo said.
A government official confirmed the information according to AFP.
Lohre had been due to celebrate Mass in the Malian capital when he went missing in a country recently .
His car was left parked outside his home and calls to his phone went to voicemai according to reportsl.
The Catholic priest was widely thought to have been kidnapped, although no one ever claimed responsibility.
Lohre had lived in Mali for some 30 years and taught inter-religious dialogue at the Islamo-Christian Institute, which receives students from around the world.
Mali is a landlocked country in the northern part of West Africa and it is the eighth-largest country in Africa, with an area of over 1,241,238 square kilometers with a population of just under 22 million.
It is ranked among the world's poorest countries and is in mostly in the Saharan and Sahelian regions of the northern part of Africa. More than 90 percent of Mali's population are Muslims.
It is in a region that has been wracked by violence for years and kidnappings of foreigners and Malians have regularly taken place for criminal or ideological reasons, though they are more common outside the capital.
His release was not expected and only days earlier, on Nov, 23, the Catholic news agency ACIA Africa reported Bamako, that 12 months had passed since the disappearance of Lohre.
In a note shared with ACI Africa on Nov. 22, an official of the Congregation has said that the whereabouts of the German Catholic Priest were still unknown.
"We still don't know how he is doing, and we pray for his liberation," Fr. Pawel Hulecki, the Assistant General of the White Fathers, had said.
After he was taken away his car was found abandoned and the cross he always carried with him was on the ground near the car.
Mali was once home to several pre-colonial empires, and for centuries, its northern city of Timbuktu was a key regional trading post and center of Islamic culture, according to a BBC profile on the country.
After independence from France in 1960, Mali suffered droughts, rebellions, and 23 years of military dictatorship until democratic elections in 1992.
Since 2012, however insurgencies on both the north and central regions have gathered pace.
"Following two coups in 2020 and 2021, which overthrew the civilian government, the former colonial power France withdrew its troops. Mali has strengthened its links with Moscow, with mercenaries from the Wagner group deployed in the country," according to the BBC.