Western couple seized in Burkina Faso found in Mali

BAMAKO: A Canadian woman and her Italian partner kidnapped in Burkina Faso in 2018 have been found in good health in the northwest of Mali after fleeing their captors and were set to be repatriated, diplomatic and UN sources said on Saturday.
Tedith Blais and Luca Tacchetto, both in their thirties, managed to escape near the northern city of Kidal on Friday and were taken to the local base of the UN mission in Mali, known by its French acronym MINUSMA.
The pair were then flown out on Saturday afternoon on a special plane to Mali’s capital Bamako.
They appeared in good spirits but seemed taken aback when greeted by the Malian, UN and Canadian officials with extended elbows. The pair were then informed about the coronavirus crisis and the new social etiquette.
A health official sporting a mask and protective gear then took their temperature. The couple, who were wearing white T-shirts, did not speak to reporters.
They were then due to be taken to the presidential palace before being repatriated.
Malian Foreign Minister Tiebile Drame said at the airport that no ransom had been paid.
“I can assure you that nothing was paid,” he said.
MINUSMA mission head Mahamat Saleh Annadif explained some of the details surrounding their reappearance.
“We have good news. Yesterday around three in the afternoon our Kidal staff
informed me they had found two hostages — a Canadian and an Italian,” said Annadif.
“We have conducted medical tests. They are keeping really well and we let them rest,” he said.
The pair were dressed like Tuaregs and apparently stopped a passing car and told the driver to take them to the nearest UN post. There was no detailed information on
their escape or the identity of the kidnappers.
“From preliminary information they must have managed to escape. They were picked up by a civilian vehicle which drove them to the MINUSMA camp.” — AFP