Kidnapped Italians freed

Pier Luigi Maccalli and Nicola Chiacchio Photo credit: Air Info Agadez

 MALI – Two Italian hostages kidnapped by Islamic extremists in Niger have been freed, Malian government officials said on Friday.

 Lombard priest Father Pier Luigi Maccalli was abducted in Niger in 2018 and Nicola Chiacchio went missing last year during a solo bicycle trip.

 The pair, who had been moved to Mali after their capture, were released Thursday along with two other hostages – French aid worker Sophie Petronin and former Malian Finance Minister Soumalia Cissè.

 News of their release came after Mali’s interim government freed 100 prisoners over the weekend.

 Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio praised the work of intelligence organization Aise (External Information and Security Agency) and “those who worked to bring them home.”