A Canadian woman and Italian man kidnapped in Burkina Faso in December 2018 have been released to the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in neighbouring Mali and appear to be in good health, a mission spokesman said on Saturday.
Edith Blais and Luca Tacchetto went missing while travelling through Burkina Faso, a country where jihadist groups with links to al Qaeda and the Islamic State group are active.
UN mission spokesman Olivier Salgado told Reuters that Blais and Tacchetto were received by peacekeepers on Friday evening and would be handed over to Malian authorities later on Saturday.
“UN blue helmets found an Italian citizen and a Canadian citizen near Kidal, who had been taken hostage in Burkina territory in 2018,” a security official from the UN mission in Mali, MINUSMA, told AFP.
“Both are well. They are under our protection. They will be transferred to Bamako on Saturday and then flown home to their respective countries,” the security official said.
Blais, from Quebec, and her partner Tacchetto, from Venice, disappeared in mid-December 2018 while travelling through the west African country.
The couple, who are both in their 30s, were driving by car to Ouagadougou from Bobo-Dioulasso, more than 360 kilometres west of the capital, when all trace of them was lost, according to Blais’s family.
They had been planning to go to Togo to work on a humanitarian project.
In April 2019, a Burkina government spokesman said the two had been abducted and probably taken out of the country, but that they were not in any danger.
It is not known who was responsible for kidnapping the pair.