French Special Forces rescue Dutch in northern Mali kidnapped four years ago

imgFrench special forces on Monday rescued a Dutch national kidnapped nearly four years ago in northern Mali by AQIM extremists in an operation that killed a number of suspected militants, officials said.
France’s defence ministry said Dutch hostage Sjaak Rijke, kidnapped in Timbuktu in November 2011, was freed during “military action carried out by the French army’s special forces.”
“This combat action has also led to the capture of several individuals,” added the ministry.
French President Francois Hollande also spoke of the operation, saying the freed hostage had been transported to a safe location and that a number of suspected militants had been killed.
He also signaled that French soldiers were not aware of the hostage’s location before the raid against the extremists.
“Several hours ago, French special forces were able to carry out an attack against a terrorist group and were able not only to neutralise the group, but also obtain the freedom … of a Dutch man who had been held hostage since November 2011,” Hollande said.
He said the assault occurred near Tessalit in Mali’s far north, near the border with Algeria.
Asked whether the hostage was in good condition, Hollande said “as much as possible after four years of captivity.”
“It was a surprise for us — for our forces — to be able to free this hostage because we did not have information” on his presence, he said, without providing further details.

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