German aid worker freed after kidnapping four years ago in Niger, says the employer

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A 63-year-old German aid worker, Joerg Lange, has been freed more than four years after he was kidnapped in western Niger near the Malian border, his employer, humanitarian organisation Help, said in a statement on Saturday.

Armed men on motorcycles kidnapped Lange in April 2018 near the Nigerien town of Inates in borderlands where militant groups, some with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State, have carried out frequent attacks for years.

Help did not say how Lange’s release was secured or where he now is.

“We are very relieved and grateful that our colleague JoergLange can return to his family after more than four and a half years,” Help Managing Director Bianca Kaltschmitt said.

She thanked the German Foreign Office and other German authorities, as well as “authorities and friends in Mali, Niger and neighbouring countries”.

An engineer by training, Lange had worked in the humanitarian sector for more than thirty years before he was kidnapped.