Romanian hostage seized from Burkina Faso mine released after eight years

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – A Romanian security officer who was kidnapped from a manganese mining project in Burkina Faso in 2015 has been freed and safely returned to Romania, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Iulian Ghergut was 39 when he was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen from the Tambao manganese mining project in northern Burkina Faso near the border with Mali where he was working in security.

Islamist militant group Al-Mourabitoun later claimed the kidnapping, when a speaker for the group said it had offered terms to Romania for his release. The foreign ministry confirmed Ghergut was alive in June of this year.

“He has been released and is now safely on Romanian territory,” the ministry said in a statement, adding it was thanking “all foreign partners, particularly Moroccan authorities for the important support given to solve this extremely complicated case.”

West Africa’s Sahel region where Ghergut was kidnapped has been shaken by a military coup in Niger in late July following military takeovers in neighbouring Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad since 2020.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie, editing by Pritha Sarkar)