American Aid Worker held captive in West Africa, released after 6 years

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After 6 years, American aid worker Jeff Woodke from McKinleyville California was released from being held captive in western Africa and was finally able to return home.

Back in 2016, Jeff Woodke was kidnapped from his home in the northern city of Niger known as Abalak. This occurred on October 14thand he was then held captive for 6 years until his release yesterday on March 20. It’s believed that Woodke was kidnapped by a group connected to the terrorist organization ISIS and then he was turned over to affiliates of the group Al-Qaeda over in the neighboring country of Mali.

“I’m gratified & relieved to see the release of U.S. hostage Jeff Woodke after over 6 years in captivity,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement. “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.”

Woodke was spotted at in an international airport located in the capital of Niger after his release, along with him was French journalist Oliver Dubois, whose release was also announced on March 20. It’s believed he had also been held captive for nearly 2years in Africa as well after he had went missing in the city of Gao in Mali in April of 2021. Bob Klamser, the spokesperson for the Woodke family stated that the family said he was happy and thrilled to finally be freed so he could see his family again.

“He is undergoing medical evaluation and will be working with his family and the U.S. government on plans for his return home and reunion with his family.” The family said.

The family statement showed that Woodke’s wife Els was especially happy to have him coming home.

“She has expressed her profound thanks to the many people in governments and others around the world who have worked so hard to see this result,” the family statement said. “She praises God for answering the prayers of Christians everywhere who have prayed for this outcome.”

Biden also released a statement on the release of Woodke and stated that he was gratified for the release of Woodke from being held hostage.

“Jeff was kidnapped while serving people in the Sahel as an aid worker,” Biden said. “and I am grateful that he will soon be reunited with his wife, Els, and their family after spending more than six years held hostage by terrorists.”

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