“When we have citizens who are taken hostage, it is our troops who save them, at a risk to their own lives,” he added. “There were soldiers who were killed in operations to save hostages imprisoned in foreign countries. You have to have respect for our soldiers,” said French government spokesman Gabriel Attal.

Malian authorities say they are actively searching for a French woman who spent four years as an al-Qaida hostage and who now has returned to the West African country despite being denied a visa, the AP reports.

Sophie Petronin, 76, spent years working in Mali before her 2016 abduction and apparently crossed a land border back into the country in March, about five months after she was freed.

French and Malian authorities have both expressed dismay about her decision to return, fearing for her safety.

An Oct. 29 message distributed to Malian police that was obtained by The Associated Press indicated that Petronin was headed toward the town of Sikasso. Authorities called for her to be brought back to Bamako if located.

“Sophie (Petronin) is wanted by the gendarmerie. And as it is an investigation, I do not want to talk about the reason for this search, but the judicial authorities have many questions to ask her,” said Amadou Sangho at the Ministry of Internal Security.

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