Al-Qaeda releases Swedish hostage held in Mali since 2011

| Updated: Jun 27, 2017 07:10 IST

Stockholm [Sweden], June 27 (ANI): Johan Gustafsson, a Swedish national who was held hostage by al-Qaeda in Mali since 2011, has been released. Gustafsson was abducted in Timbuktu, along with a South African and Dutch national. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said in a statement on Monday, "It is with great pleasure that I can announce that Johan Gustafsson has been released and can return to Sweden. Johan's situation has touched many of us, and extensive efforts have been made to secure his release." "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. A work that finally made it possible that John can come home," the statement added. Gustafsson was abducted in Timbuktu, along with a South African and Dutch national. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the kidnappings. It was one of several Islamist groups to take control of northern Mali in in 2012, before being pushed back from their strongholds by French military forces the following year. According to the DW, the kidnappers had allegedly demanded USD 5 million for Gustafsson's release, a demand reportedly rejected by the Swedish government. (ANI)

iocl