Gloria Cecilia Narvaez, a Colombian nun who has been in captivity in Mali for almost five years was released on Saturday following months of negotiations.
She was kidnapped by the Macina Liberation Front, an al-Qaeda-linked group, in February 2017 near the border with Burkina Faso.
Following her release, Narvaez, dressed in a yellow robe and headscarf met with Mali’s interim President Assimi Goita.
“I first thank God, who is the light and the peace, I thank the Malian authorities, the president for all the efforts made so that I am free,” she said in a brief statement made on state television.
“I am very happy, I stayed healthy for five years, thank God,” she added.
“The presidency of Mali salutes the courage and bravery of the nun. This liberation is the crowning achievement of four years and eight months of combined efforts by several intelligence services,” the presidency said in a statement.
In Colombia, National Police Director Jorge Luis Vargas welcomed news of Narvaez’s release.
“Today is very good news for Colombia, but also for the national police for all the efforts made over the years to secure the safe release of our compatriot,” he said.
Vargas said meetings had been held with several European and African ambassadors to try to secure the nun’s release.
“With Interpol, and with other international organisations, we have always sought to bring those responsible to justice.”
There was no details given as to whether any ransom was paid for Narvaez.
Kidnapping, once rare, has now become a lucrative source of cash for the armed groups in Mali linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL-affiliated groups.
On Sunday, the Vatican in a statement said that Pope Francis met Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez in St. Peter’s Basilica just before he celebrated Mass there to open a two-year worldwide consultation on the Catholic Church’s future.