A US aid worker and a French journalist who were kidnapped in West Africa by militants have been freed.
On Monday, Jeffery Woodke and Olivier Dubois arrived at an airport in Niamey, Niger’s capital.
Mr. Woodke went missing in Niger in 2016, while Mr. Dubois was held hostage for nearly two years in neighboring Mali.
Authorities in Niger worked hard to secure their release.
Mr Dubois, 48, said it was “amazing for me to be here, to be free” in Niamey.
“I’m tired, but I’m fine,” he said to reporters, smiling but visibly overwhelmed.
“I want to thank Niger for its expertise in this delicate mission, as well as France and all those who have helped me get here today.”
Interior Minister Hamadou Souley of Niger said the pair were released after “several months of efforts” by Nigerien authorities before being handed over to French and US officials.
It is unclear how or when the men were freed from their captors.
Mr. Woodke’s release came just days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an official visit to Niger, becoming the first top US diplomat to do so.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said he was “relieved” and thanked the authorities in Niger for “bringing [Mr Woodke] home to all who miss and love him”.
“I want to thank everyone across government who has worked tirelessly to secure his freedom,” he said in a tweet.
Mr Woodke, a missionary and humanitarian aid worker in Niger for over 30 years, was kidnapped at gunpoint in October 2016 from his home in Agadez.
Meanwhile, Mr Dubois began working as a freelance journalist in Mali in 2015 for the Paris-based daily newspaper Libération and the newsweekly Le Point.
He announced his kidnapping in a video posted on social media in May 2021, saying he was kidnapped in the northern city of Gao by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), Africa’s main jihadist alliance linked to Al-Qaeda.
“We are deeply relieved and happy about this outcome,” Libération editor-in-chief Dov Alfon said after his release.
In a tweet, French President Emmanuel Macron thanked Niger and stated that Mr Dubois was in “good health” after speaking with him.