Remains of Christian missionary held hostage in Mali has been found

Beatrice Stockli was kidnapped in 2016.

Mali's foreign ministry has confirmed that the remains have been found of a Christian missionary held captive by Islamist extremists in the country for several years.

Béatrice Stöckli, from Switzerland, was serving in Timbuktu when she was kidnapped by jihadists in 2016. The remains were confirmed to be hers through a DNA test.

They have been handed over to Malian authorities by the International Committee of the Red Cross for repatriation to Switzerland. 

"Sadly, we now have definitive evidence that the woman who was held hostage is dead," Swiss Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis said.

"But I am also relieved that we can return the woman's remains to her family and I would like to pass on my deepest condolences to them. I also wish to thank the Malian authorities for their assistance in helping to identify the body." 

A fellow hostage released in 2020 said that Stöckli had been killed. Sophie Pétronin, a 75-year-old French charity worker, was abducted by jihadists in December 2016 before being freed last year. 

She said Stöckli was shot dead after refusing to be moved to another part of the Sahara by her captors.

Stöckli was dragged from her home by jihadist group Jama'at Nusrat Al-Islam wa'l-Muslimin, who wanted to use her in a prisoner exchange.

Pétronin said they were often relocated to prevent their discovery by the French and Malian authorities.