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German hostage freed after jihadist kidnapping in Niger in 2018


DAKAR, Senegal – German aid worker Jorg Lange was released on Saturday more than four and a half years after Islamic extremists kidnapped him in the West African country Niger, according to Help, the German aid organization where he works.

The group’s statement did not provide details on how or where Lange, a 63-year-old engineer, was released.

“We are very relieved and grateful that our colleague Jorg Lange can return to his family after more than four and a half years,” said Bianca Kaltschmitt, the organization’s chief executive.

Lange, Help’s national director in Niger, was abducted by the Islamic State group in Niger’s Tillaberi region in April 2018. Help said Lange had devoted more than three decades of his life to humanitarian aid.

For seven years, jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group in the Sahel, the vast expanse south of the Sahara Desert, have used hostages held for ransom to fund operations and expand their presence.

“The Sahel region has proven to be an unstable region for missionaries and foreign workers against the backdrop of several hostage-takings and the proliferation of militancy in recent years,” said Laith Alkhouri, CEO of Intelonyx Intelligence Advisory, which provides intelligence analysis, said Saturday.

“Hostage taking has proven to be a lucrative business that funds terrorist groups but also amplifies their notoriety,” he said.

At least 25 foreigners and countless locals have been abducted in the Sahel since 2015, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. According to the organization, five foreigners are still held captive, including the Reverend Hans-Joachim Lohre, a German priest kidnapped in Bamako, the Malian capital, in November.

Other detainees include French journalist Olivier Dubois, kidnapped last April in northern Mali, US national Jeffery Woodke, Australian doctor Ken Elliott and Romanian national Iulian Ghergut, kidnapped from a mine in Burkina Faso and detained since 2015 .


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