Fr Hans-Joachim Lohre, a German Missionary of Africa, has been released after being held by extremists in Mali for just over a year. Source: Vatican News.
According to the Vatican’s Fides news agency, the 66-year-old priest had been living in Mail for more than three decades before disappearing in November 2022.
The French broadcaster RFI also reported on the missionary’s release. Berlin, however, has not yet officially commented on the case.
Fides noted that the circumstances surrounding the freeing of Fr Lohre’s were “not clear.”
His release on Sunday, was announced by a representative of the Malian government and by two Church officials.
It was apparently negotiated directly by the German Government, which brought him straight back to the country on a special flight.
Germany still has a military contingent in Mali as part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA. It will be phased out at the end of the year, as requested by the country’s military, which took power in a coup in 2020.
In the course of his 30 years in Mali, Fr Lohre – known locally as “Ha-Jo” – had worked at the country’s Islamic-Christian Formation Institute and been director of the Faith and Encounter Centre in Hamdallaye.
He was on his way to celebrate Mass for a community of religious sisters in Kalaban Coura when he disappeared.
Diplomatic and security sources attribute Fr Lohre’s disappearance to the al-Qaeda-linked Islam and Muslim Support Group, known as JNIM.
Mali: German missionary freed after a year in captivity (By Joseph Tulloch, Vatican News)