Catholic priest freed two years after kidnapping

Catholic priest freed two years after kidnapping Fr Pierluigi Maccalli

An Italian Catholic priest was freed on October 8, two years after he was kidnapped by a jihadist group.

The office of the president of Mali announced the liberation of Fr Pierluigi Maccalli, a member of the Society of African Missions.

He was one of four hostages released this week by fighters believed to be linked to al-Qaeda, including another Italian, Nicola Chiacchio.

The news was confirmed by Italy’s foreign minister Luigi Di Maio.

“Good news: Fr Pier Luigi Maccalli and Nicola Chiacchio are finally free and well,” he wrote on Twitter, thanking the Italian intelligence services for helping to secure their release.

The 59-year-old priest, from Crema in northern Italy, was kidnapped on September 17, 2018, in an isolated parish in southwest Niger, near the border with Burkina Faso.

He appeared in a short video in April, filmed by his captors, which confirmed that he was still alive.