Canadian, Italian kidnapped in Burkina Faso in 2018 released in Mali

A Canadian and an Italian kidnapped in Burkina Faso in December 2018 have been released to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in neighboring Mali and appear to be in good health, a mission spokesman said on Saturday.

Edith Blais and Luca Tacchetto disappeared during a trip through Burkina Faso, a country where jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group are active.

United Nations mission spokesman Olivier Salgado told Reuters that Blais and Tacchetto were received by peacekeepers Friday evening and would be handed over to Malian authorities later Saturday.

“UN peacekeepers found an Italian citizen and a Canadian citizen near Kidal, who had been taken hostage on Burkinabé territory in 2018,” a security official for the UN mission told AFP. in Mali, MINUSMA.

“Both are fine. They are under our protection. They will be transferred to Bamako on Saturday and then flown back to their respective countries, “said the security official.

Blais, from Quebec, and his partner Tacchetto, from Venice, disappeared in mid-December 2018 during a trip through the country of West Africa.

The couple, who are both in their thirties, were driving to Ouagadougou from Bobo-Dioulasso, more than 360 kilometers west of the capital, when all traces of them were lost, according to the family of Blais.

They planned to go to Togo to work on a humanitarian project.

In April 2019, a spokesman for the Burkinabé government said that the two men had been kidnapped and probably expelled from the country, but that they were not in danger.

It is not known who was responsible for the kidnapping of the couple.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)