A Spanish plane is set to bring home three aid workers who were held in captivity for almost nine months. Photo by: Arria Belli / CC BY-SA

A Spanish plane is set to bring home three aid workers — two Spaniards and one Italian — who were held in captivity for almost nine months.

Members of the Islamist group Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa in Mali released Enric Gonyalons, Ainhoa Fernandez del Rincon and Rossella Urru on Wednesday (July 18), BBC reports. The three were kidnapped in October last year from the Rabuni refugee camp in Tindouf, western Algeria.

The rebels are believed to have ties with the al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. AQIM, however, has denied involvement in the incident.

The aid workers are working for different nongovernmental organizations. Gonyalon is a staff member of Mundubat, while Fernandez is part of the Asociación de Amigos del Pueblo Saharaui de Extremadura. Urru, meanwhile, is a representative of Comitato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo dei Popoli in the Algerian camp.

The reason for their release remains unclear, but there have been reports that either ransom was paid or a prisoner exchange took place.

Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

Join the Discussion