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Mali officials say that two Canadian diplomats held hostage by African militants were released on Wednesday. The two were held captive for four months.
Robert Fowler and Louis Guay have been freed according to Seydou Cissouma, a spokesman for Mali’s president. The Canadian government has yet to confirm the release.
The Toronto Star reports that officials in the Foreign Affairs department urge caution and that they are still working to confirm the news about the releases.
“We are aware of these media reports and have no comment at this time. We continue to request good judgment and caution in reporting on a situation where lives may be at risk,” the official said in an e-mail to news organizations.
Fowler is a special UN envoy to Niger. He was once the Canadian ambassador to Italy.
Guay is Fowler’s assistant.
There are also reports that a German woman and a French woman were also released.
Fowler and Guay were abducted on December 14 with their driver Soumana Moukaila in Niger on route to look at a gold mine. Their vehicle was found later the same day about 40 kilometres of Niger’s capital, Niamey.
Moukaila was released last month.
The kidnapping have been claimed by Al-Qaeda’s north African branch. The group, known as AQMI said that they are also holding four European tourists since January.
While there were no demands for the release of those held the group was requesting and had received ransoms.
The Toronto Star quotes Fowler’s relative New Brunswick Liberal MP Dominic Leblanc:
“Obviously it’s been, since the 14th of December, a very, very difficult time for the Fowler family. They were hoping to have spent Christmas in Florida as a family when Bob went missing,” Leblanc said.
“From that point forward, every day and every night has been a source of concern for Mr. Fowler, for his wife Mary, for his children, so we’re very hopeful that in fact as soon as this news is confirmed it will be a very, very important celebration for the Fowler family.”
It has been confirmed that the Canadians are free.
Globe and Mail reports:
“I have spoken to members of Bob’s family…They are obviously very encouraged by the information that they’ve been given,” said Mr. Leblanc.
“Our understanding is that Bob is on his way to Bamako, Mali, and obviously until the Canadian government physically sees him, until they’re able to be in personal contact with Bob, they’re not going to confirm. But the family is certainly very enthusiastic about the news that they’ve been given and I know that they’re looking forward to hopefully reuniting with Bob in the coming days.”