The Romanian Iulian Ghergut, kidnapped in Burkina Faso in 2015 by a jihadist group affiliated with Al-Qaida, has been released, the Romanian government announced on Wednesday. He was the longest-held Western hostage in the Sahel region.
Romania announced on Wednesday, August 9, the release of the longest-held Western hostage in the Sahel, Romanian citizen Iulian Ghergut, who was kidnapped in Burkina Faso in 2015 by a jihadist group affiliated with Al-Qaida.
“He is currently safe on Romanian territory” where he returned today, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, thanking Morocco for its “important support”. On the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), President Klaus Iohannis thanked “external partners who supported” Romania “in this difficult endeavor”.
One of the longest-held hostages in the Sahel, Ghergut was a security officer at a manganese mine in northern Burkina Faso, near the borders of Mali and Niger. He was kidnapped on April 4, 2015, by five armed men.
His abduction was claimed by the jihadist group Al-Mourabitoune, which later pledged allegiance to Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). At least three Italians and one German are still held in the Sahel, as well as a South African abducted in 2017.