By SAM MEDNICK
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — German aid organization Help says Jorg Lange, a German national who headed its Niger operations, has been freed more than four and a half years after Islamic extremists kidnapped him in the West African country. The group’s statement Saturday did not provide details of how or where Lange, a 63-year-old engineer, was released. Lange was kidnapped by the Islamic State group in Niger’s Tillaberi region in April 2018. For seven years jihadi groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group in the Sahel, the vast expanse south of the Sahara Desert, have been been using hostages held for ransom as a way to fund operations and expand their presence.