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Swede man held captive in Mali since 2011 freed

26 June 2017

Militant group Al Qaeda has freed a Swedish man who was kidnapped from Mali in 2011, media reports said.

"It is with great pleasure that I can announce that Johan Gustafsson has been released and can return to Sweden", Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said in a statement, giving no details about how the release was secured. A third foreigner had been freed in 2015 by French special forces.

"The government would like to highlight the excellent cooperation that has characterized the work of the Foreign Ministry, the National Police's operational department and other Swedish and foreign authorities". Johan Gustafsson, kidnapped in Timbuktu in 2011 by AQ affiliate, in on his way home to Sweden.

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"I've already spoken with Johan and he is doing well and is overwhelmed by everything going on", Wallstrom told Swedish Radio.

The group was among many jihadist factions who took control of the north of Mali in 2012, before a French-led military operation began in January 2013 and the groups were removed.

There was no immediate word on Stephen McGown, the South African hostage.

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"We have no information..." The families of the hostages can't afford a ransom of millions of dollars, and the South African and Swedish governments will not negotiate, it said. The fate of McGowan was not known.

The released person was identified as Johan Gustafsson.

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Swede man held captive in Mali since 2011 freed