A gifted Senegalese student and novelist who was reported missing in France has said she was on “a little break to regain her senses” in a letter shared with a government minister.

Diary Sow, 20, did not return to school in Paris after the Christmas holidays, causing concern in Senegal and France.

Ms Sow won two awards as Senegal’s best student and has been studying at the prestigious Louis-Le-Grand school.

French prosecutors had opened an investigation into her disappearance.

But in a letter she sent to Senegal’s Water and Sanitation Minister Serigne Mbaye Thiam, Ms Sow said she was “not the victim of any kind of pressure” and apologised to those worried about her.

“I am not hiding. I’m not running away. See it as a kind of welcome respite from my life,” she wrote.

She said her failure to show up for school on 4 January was not “about overwork, or madness, or the desire for freedom”.

“I am not sorry to have left, I am sorry for the inconvenience caused by my departure and for the people I made suffer,” she said.

The minister said Ms Sow and her family had given him permission to release excepts from the letter on his Twitter account.

“This tweet really is mine,” Mr Thiam, who as Senegal’s education minister sponsored Ms Sow for several years, told AFP news agency.Ms Sow won several national academic prizes and published her first novel – the Face of an Angel – last year.

She is a second-year pre-university student at Louis-Le-Grand, having received a scholarship for excellence. She studies physics, chemistry and engineering.

A Senegalese student association in Toulouse said Ms Sow had spent her end-of-year vacation in the southern French city with her best friend.

The Senegalese consul in Paris reported her missing on 7 January, prompting a social media campaign to find her.

Several French celebrities, including actor Omar Sy, shared the appeal on Instagram and Twitter.

In a tweet on Wednesday, the Senegalese consul said Ms Sow was “safe and sound”.

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