Swiss hostage killed by terrorists in Mali, says ministry

French President Emmanuel Macron (right) stands by as Sophie Petromin (centre) is welcomed in Paris on Oct 9, 2020, after her release PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA (AFP) - A Swiss woman being held hostage in Mali "was apparently killed by kidnappers... about a month ago", Bern's foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday (Oct 9).

"It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of our fellow citizen," foreign affairs chief Ignazio Cassis said, adding that "I condemn this cruel act and express my deepest sympathy to the relatives".

Switzerland did not release the name of the hostage who had been killed, but said they had been held by the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), an alliance comprising several extremist groups aligned to Al-Qaeda that has claimed responsibility for some of the biggest attacks in the Sahel region.

The foreign ministry (DFAE) said that "information about the killing was obtained by the French authorities from the recently released French hostage" Sophie Petronin, who returned to France on Friday after being freed by the Malian insurgents following almost four years in captivity.

Swiss authorities "are making every effort to find out more about the circumstances of the killing and the whereabouts of the remains," the DFAE said, adding that it "demands handing over" of the hostage's body.

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