Dutch hostage doing well, ready to move on with life

Sjaak Rijke
Sjaak Rijke, Dutchman held hostage by Al-Qaida in Mali, seen reading a prepared statement in a November 2014 video after three years in captivity. Sjaak Rijke, Dutchman held hostage by Al-Qaida in Mali, seen reading a prepared statement in a November 2014 video after three years in captivity

The French army has released footage showing Sjaak Rijke having a meal with some soldiers after being freed from an Al-Qaeda linked group in Mali yesterday. He is smiling and eating and seems to be doing well.

According to French President Francois Hollande, yesterday's special forces mission was not specifically intended to free Rijke and the French forces found him by chance, Euro News reports. "It was a surprise for us, for our forces, to be able to free this hostage, as we didn't have any information about his presence", said Hollande. "But knowing the existence of this terrorist group, the fact that we were able to launch an attack, preserving his life, it's really satisfactory."

Euro News also spoke to some of Rijke's old colleagues, who told the news agency that Rijke had not been forgotten. "I hope that he will be able to pick up his life again", one of his colleagues said. "Whether that is in his job with the trains or somewhere else. I hope he will find happiness again."

The community of Woerden, Rijke's home town, is happy and relieved that Rijke has finally been freed. Some residents hung flags to celebrate, NOS reports.

Mayor Victor Molkenboer is happy and surprised. He arranged an impromptu press conference in a hotel in the city yesterday afternoon. He said that he spoke briefly with Rijke's mother and she very happy with the news. "This is an end to a long period of uncertainty. ou know nothing, you are powerless, she is very relieved." As far as Molkenboer understands from Rijke's family, he is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances.

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