Kidnapped in 2016, US Aid Worker Is Freed

Jeff Woodke was held hostage in Niger by unknown group
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 20, 2023 10:45 AM CDT
US Aid Worker Kidnapped in 2016 Released
Els Woodke speaks of the 2016 kidnapping of husband Jeff Woodke, photo on monitor, in Washington on Nov. 17, 2021.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

An American aid worker who was kidnapped in the West African nation of Niger more than six years ago has been released from custody, the Biden administration said Monday. "I'm gratified & relieved to see the release of U.S. hostage Jeff Woodke after over 6 years in captivity. The U.S. thanks Niger for its help in bringing him home to all who miss & love him. I thank so many across our government who've worked tirelessly toward securing his freedom," tweeted national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday.

Jeff Woodke was kidnapped from his home in Abalak, Niger, in October 2016 by men who ambushed and killed his guards and forced him at gunpoint into their truck, where he was driven north toward Mali's border. A senior administration official who briefed reporters Monday on Woodke's release described the action as the culmination of years of efforts, reports the AP, but declined to say what exactly led to him being freed from captivity or where he is now. The official said no ransom was paid and no concession was made to captors. Secretary of State Antony Blinken did make a visit to Niger earlier this month, notes CNN, and announced $150 million in humanitarian aid for the region.

(More Niger stories.)

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