Catholic priest freed two years after kidnapping by jihadist group

Screenshot 2020 10 09 at 083332 Fr. Pierluigi Maccalli pictured before he was kidnapped. | Society of African Missions.

An Italian Catholic priest was freed Thursday two years after he was kidnapped by a jihadist group.

The office of the president of Mali announced Oct. 8 the liberation of Fr. Pierluigi Maccalli, a member of the Society of African Missions.

He was one of four hostages released this week by fighters believed to be linked to al-Qaeda, including another Italian, Nicola Chiacchio.

The news was confirmed by Italy's foreign minister Luigi Di Maio.

"Good news: Fr. Pier Luigi Maccalli and Nicola Chiacchio are finally free and well," he wrote on Twitter, thanking the Italian intelligence services for helping to secure their release.

The 59-year-old priest, from Crema in northern Italy, was kidnapped on Sept. 17, 2018, in an isolated parish in southwest Niger, near the border with Burkina Faso. 

He appeared in a short video in April, filmed by his captors, which confirmed that he was still alive.

He is believed to have been liberated in northern Mali.

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