A Romanian national kidnapped by an Al-Qaeda affiliate in 2015 in Burkina Faso, has been released after eight years in captivity, the Romanian government announced on Wednesday.
Iulian Ghergut, now 47, was taken on April 4, 2015, while working in a manganese mine in northeast Burkina Faso, near the border with Mali and Niger.
“He has been released and is currently safe on Romanian territory,” Romania’s foreign ministry said in a press release, thanking Morocco for its “important support”.
Romanian president Klaus Iohannis on X, formerly known as Twitter, welcomed the release of Ghergut and thanked the Romanian institutions and its “external partners” for their efforts.
It was the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group, Al-Mourabitoun, that claimed the abduction of Ghergut.
He is thought to have been one of the last remaining Western hostages in Africa’s troubled Sahel region.
In May, 88-year-old Australian surgeon Kenneth Elliott was released after more than seven years’ captivity.
Elliott and his wife were abducted by Al Qaeda-linked jihadists in Burkina Faso in January 2016. His spouse was released three weeks later.
French journalist Olivier Dubois, and US aid worker Jeffery Woodke, kidnapped in 2021 and 2016 respectively, were freed in March.