31 Oct 2013

Hostages released after three years

7:12 am on 31 October 2013

Four French hostages who were seized by Islamist militants in Niger more than three years ago have been released and returned home to France.

The men were kidnapped by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb from the uranium mining town of Arlit, where they were working for French nuclear company Areva.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius says no ransom was paid, although Le Monde newspaper says is quoting an unnamed source as saying €20 million changed hands.

That report echoes earlier comment from a member of the men's families that a ransom was paid, the BBC reports.

The hostages spent more than 1000 days in captivity in the baking heat of the African dessert.

Their homecoming was a tearful celebration at a military airfield in Paris.