ex-hostage Sophie Pétronin says she wants to “come back to see what is happening” in Gao


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Sophie Pétronin, who arrived in Bamako overnight from Thursday to Friday after her release, made her first statements to journalists. Once she reunites with her family in France and Switzerland, she intends to return to Gao to visit the children’s aid organization she ran before her kidnapping.

Sophie petronin, the Frenchwoman freed in Mali with three other Malian and Italian hostages, declared Thursday (October 8th) her intention to return to Gao (north) to ensure that the children’s aid organization she was leading before being abducted almost four years ago continued to function properly.

“I am going to go to France in Switzerland and then I will come back to see what is happening here,” she said in a meeting with journalists at the French embassy in Bamako. “I made the commitment for the children, it’s been almost four years since I saw how the programs are going”, she said, invoking the actions of her organization against malnutrition and in favor of orphan children.

She said she was happy to have learned that her assistant was able to take over in her absence. “I still have to go take a look and say hello to them because I made this commitment. If you make a commitment, go through with your commitment, otherwise you will have lost your reason for being on this earth” , did she say.

“No anger”

His son Sébastien Chadaud, who arrived in Bamako on Tuesday and present at his side, restrained his ardor by saying that it would be done “in complete safety”. “Expect me to frame certain things, you won’t go where you want to go,” he said after having invested a lot in her.

Sophie Pétronin affirmed that her first desire, when arriving in Bamako, was to say “Pardonne-moi” to her son to whom she affirms to have given “a lot of trouble, worries, work to help me get out of there where I was”. Did she think she would never come back? “No. Deep down I have always been sure and certain that I will return (to my home, editor’s note) and I said to myself, above all, don’t give importance to death because you don’t know where, when and how it will happen. “

Sophie Pétronin’s first statements after her release

“My mother is a rock”, commented, moved, her son. “You don’t have to beg for forgiveness,” he told her before kissing her on the forehead.

The moving reunion between Sophie Pétronin and her son

Sophie Pétronin also said she felt “no anger”. In a separate interview with AFP and Radio France Internationale, she said she was “part of the Gaoise family” (de Gao) and sketched out a de-dramatized vision of what her captivity had been.

Time seemed “a bit” long to her, “but I turned detention, so to speak, into a spiritual retreat.” “I was in the acceptance of what was happening to me and I did not resist, and then I got out of it,” she said. It “was going well, the air was healthy, good (…) I held on, I held on, I prayed a lot because I had a lot of time, I took a walk, I ate well, I drank well, fresh water eh! “.

“Hold on”

She indicated that she could listen to the radio and that her guards, whom she did not provide details on, passed messages or videos to her, such as one in which her son said to her: “Hold on” . She paid tribute to him: “My son is a fighter, but in the family, we are all fighters”.

She refrained from speaking of her guards as “jihadists”. “Call them whatever you want, I would say they are armed opposition groups to the regime,” she said. She invoked past agreements which had not been kept and which would provoke the current hostilities.

Government and armed groups “will find the way for peace, I wish them in any case very much”, she declared. She said she was “in great shape”.

Sophie Pétronin released: “The kidnappers raised the stakes”

With AFP

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