- Al-Qaeda’s North African wing has released a French hostage abducted in Mali and held for three months. He arrived in the capital Bamako on Wednesday, hours after his release.
His release follows an agreement between Malian government and his captors that demanded the release of four Al Qaeda rebels earlier this week.
The released Islamist militants, including two Algerians and a Mauritanian sparked a row between Mali and its neighbours Algeria and Mauritania prompting both countries to withdraw their ambassadors in the country.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM, had threatened to kill the Frenchman unless Mali released the four militants who had been in possession of automatic weapons and a rocket launcher when they were arrested last year.
AQIM is still holding five other western hostages: an Italian couple abducted in December in Mauritania and three Spanish aid workers who were also taken in Mauritania.
Last year it executed a British captive after London refused to release a radical Jordanian cleric.
Largely comprised of Algerians, AQIM operates in the vast borderless Saharan territories of southern Algeria, Mauritania, Mali and Niger, exploiting the absence of state control.
The group is the latest reincarnation of a militant organisation born in the civil war, which gripped Algeria in the 1990s.
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