Sunday marks the 500th day of captivity for French journalist Olivier Dubois, who was abducted by al Qaeda-linked militants in northern Mali in April 2021. France says it remains fully committed to securing his liberation despite the withdrawal of French troops from the country.
France’s relations with Mali have deteriorated sharply since a junta took power in the West African country in an August 2020 coup, eventually triggering the withdrawal of French troops that was completed this week after a nine-year campaign to combat jihadist insurgents.
“The withdrawal of Operation Barkhane from Mali in no way diminishes France’s commitment to securing the release of Olivier Dubois,” François Delmas, a spokesperson for the French Foreign Ministry, said on Friday, referring to France’s anti-jihadist mission in the Sahel region.
Dubois, a freelance journalist who had been living and working in Mali since 2015, announced his abduction in a video posted on social media on May 5, 2021. He said he had been kidnapped on April 8 in the city of Gao by members of the al Qaeda-linked JNIM, the leading jihadist group in the Sahel.