Four years after being kidnapped by al-Qaida militants in Niger, four French hostages were released in Mali and will be home in France on Wednesday.
The French government has not released details of their captivity, but said no ransom was paid and no “assault” occurred to free them, the Agence France-Presse said
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The four men – Thierry Dol, Dnaiel Larribe, Pierre Legrand, and Marc Feret – were kidnapped in September 2010 in Niger at a uranium compound.
“It was very difficult but it was the test of a lifetime,” Dol told an AFP reporter who met them at the airport Tuesday.
French President Francois Hollande attributed the release to the work of Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufo, and talked about "three years of trials for the kidnapped men, who were held by unscrupulous captors" and "three years of suffering for the families who lived through a nightmare and are now relieved," AFP reported.
“It's like feeling something that we've never felt. Now we're waiting for them to physically return, to see them, to touch them,” Legrand's mother, Pascale Robert, told BFMTV
Translated roughly from French, BFMTV quoted defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian about the hostages, “I find [them] healthy, very emaciated and a little frightened, very marked, but healthy.”
Three other people who were kidnapped with the four men, including Daniel’s wife Francoise Larribe, were freed in 2011, AFP said.
France 24 wrote a live blog as developments in the release occurred,
but like most media outlets, was unclear on how the release came about.
“According to (Robert) Parsons, France has recently taken a ‘tougher line’ with hostage takers, where in the past it was known as ‘soft,’” France 24 wrote.
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