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WATCH: Jihadists release last French hostage & Malian opposition leader in major prisoner swap

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A crowd of people cheer Malian army soldiers at the Independence Square after a mutiny, in Bamako, Mali, August 18, 2020. © Reuters / Moussa Kalapo
France to continue its Barkhane military op in Mali after its president ousted by coup

Cissé’s kidnapping was one of myriad factors that prompted the overthrow of the government, as people expressed their anger at the lack of progress in tackling the threat posed by the Islamist insurgency in the country, which has cost so many lives. 

He served as Mali’s finance minister in the 1990s and unsuccessfully ran for president three times, most recently losing to overthrown leader President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, in 2013 and 2018. 

The Islamist insurgency began in Mali in 2012 and has killed, injured or displaced thousands of people since. France has stationed about 5,100 soldiers in Africa’s Sahel region and its citizens are often targets for kidnappings, as ransom money from European nations form a large part of the insurgency’s funding. 

The al-Qaeda-linked group known as JNIM are still believed to be holding several foreign nationals hostage, however. Australian doctor Ken Elliott, Colombian nun Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti, South African national Christo Bothma, Swiss national Beatrice Stockly and Romanian citizen Julian Ghergut are all still believed to be held in captivity by jihadists there.

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