Kidnapped French hostages return home from Niger

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Four French hostages kidnapped in Niger three years ago by al Qaeda’s north African wing have returned home a day after being released.

The group was freed following secret talks with officials from the West African country.

Pierre Legrand, Daniel Larribe, Thierry Dol and Marc Feret
were captured in Arlit while working for French nuclear group Areva and a subsidiary of construction group Vinci.

Visibly tired, they have described their three years in captivity as an extremely difficult ordeal. It was feared the quartet would be killed in retaliation for France’s military intervention in Mali to drive out Islamists.

Niger authorities say they’ve been in contact for months with the hostage takers but the conditions of the release remain unknown. France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has denied the government paid a ransom.

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