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Mali/Netherlands/freeing of a Dutch hostage

Published on April 8, 2015
Communiqué issued by the Ministry of Defence

Paris, April 6, 2015

At five o’clock this morning, in the far north of Mali, the French army’s special forces conducted military action to free the Dutch hostage, Mr Sjaak Rijke, kidnapped in Timbuktu by a terrorist group on 25 November 2011. This combat action also enabled several individuals to be captured.

The freeing of Mr Rijke is a reminder of France’s unfailing determination to combat the armed terrorist groups in the Sahel region, in the framework of Operation Barkhane.
Mr Rijke was evacuated and taken to safety in Tessalit, at Operation Barkhane’s temporary advanced base. He is unharmed.

On this morning of relief for the former hostage’s family and compatriots, the Defence Minister extends his congratulations to the French soldiers who enabled this new operation to be a success. M. Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke to his counterpart, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, to tell her that her compatriot’s captivity has come to an end. M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, also informed his counterpart, Mr Bert Koenders, first thing this morning.

For a year, 500 Dutch soldiers have been helping ensure Mali’s stabilization and security in the framework of MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali).

“France will continue its counter-terrorist action in the Sahel as long as these groups threaten our security. Alongside our five allies and partners in the region, the 3,000 soldiers of Operation Barkhane receive the support and congratulations of our whole nation this morning”, says M. Jean-Yves Le Drian./.

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