Auxiliary worker Sophie Pétronin was released on Thursday, October 8th. An event that puts an end to almost four years of captivity.
Sophie Petronin had already narrowly escaped the kidnapping of terrorists in 2012. Previously, the French woman had worked since 2001 in favor of orphaned and malnourished children in Gao. In 2012, she was able to leave the Algerian consulate, where she had sought refuge, at the last minute and be filtered out of the country in disguise before the jihadists took control of the area.
The following year, however, she returned to Gao, and three years later on Christmas Eve, she was finally kidnapped in broad daylight. The first months of her captivity: there is silence, no trace of Sophie Pétronin’s life and no demands. It was not until July 2017 that GSIM, JNIM according to its acronym in Arabic, released a video showing the septuagenary. At the end of the recording, a man calls for the intervention of Emmanuel Macron. A sign that the kidnappers are ready to negotiate, thinks the hostage’s family, who still believe in an almost result. But the months go by and Sophie Pétronin remains trapped.
In mid-June 2018, a new video will be released. The French aid worker looks like a very tired, emaciated face. It was she who then appealed to President Macron. In November of the same year, his captives claimed in a new message that his health condition had deteriorated. This time she does not appear. Concern grows among those closest to him.
Endless negotiations and false hopes
A few weeks later, his son Sébastien Pétronin accuses France of refusing an “unexpected proposal” from the kidnappers. He, who at the time multiplied trips to the Sahel, in agreement with the Quai d’Orsay, to try to establish contact with these kidnappers. In 2019, no news came from Sophie Pétronin to the point that her husband in December for the third anniversary of the kidnapping criticized France for having forgotten her. He even wonders if she’s still alive.
Hope was reborn last spring when authorities received at Quai d’Orsay Sophie Pétronin’s son to inform him that they have “a reliable proof of life” for the hostage, which stems from the debate in the month of March. Finally, last July, the release of Sophie Pétronin seemed within reach, and in the end it did not take place. At that time, the exchange of prisoners had already been mentioned. For her and her family, the struggle for freedom is finally over today.