Mali: release of German priest Hans Joachim Lohre kidnapped a year ago in Bamako

In Mali, Ha-Yo is free. Hans Joachim Lohre, nicknamed Father Ha-Yo, the diminutive of his first name, by the Christian community of Bamako, was kidnapped on November 20 last year in Bamako. He was being held hostage by the al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM). After a year and six days in detention, he was released this (Sunday) morning. No details have yet been released about the circumstances of his release. Neither Berlin nor Bamako has officially communicated at this stage.

Hans-Joachim Lohre, known as Father Ha-Yo, filmed in 2021 by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). © YouTube/AED-ACN (screenshot)

By: David Baché


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His release was confirmed to RFI by Malian security sources and by relatives of Father Ha-Yo in Bamako. For a year, the Catholic community in Mali has been praying for the release of Hans Joachim Lohre.

The 65-year-old German priest, who has lived in the country for about <> years, taught and lived at the Institute of Muslim-Christian Formation (IFIC) in Bamako, an institution committed to inter-religious dialogue.

Hans Joachim Lohre was kidnapped as he was about to take part in a Sunday mass. The cross he wore around his neck was found near his car, near the institute where he lived.

While the perpetrators of the kidnapping could not be formally identified, diplomatic and security sources confirmed that, less than three weeks later, the German priest was indeed in the hands of the al-Qaeda-linked JNIM.

For many years, the jihadist group has used hostage-taking in the Sahel as a means of financing, and there are countless Malian and Western hostages who are still or have been held captive. But Father Hayo was the first to be kidnapped in the heart of the Malian capital.

Now free, he made his way back to Germany.


We are filled with joy and gratitude " confides one of his relatives, a member of the Catholic community in Bamako who prefers to remain anonymous until the Malian transitional authorities have officially communicated on the release. "This is a time of celebration and relief for all those who have prayed and hoped for his safe return. We give thanks for this happy outcome," he added.

Read alsoMali: passengers of three buses kidnapped by JNIM

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