Paris, Feb 26 (DPA) Three hostages kidnapped more than five months ago in Niger near a uranium mine exploited by the French nuclear energy firm Areva have been released, the French government said.
Media reports Friday said the trio includes the ill French wife of a still missing Areva employee. The other two released hostages were said to come from Togo and Madagascar.
A total of seven people – five of them French nationals – had been abducted Sep 16 near the city of Arlit in northern Niger.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African affiliate of the terrorist network, claimed responsibility for the hostage taking.
Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden later said it was in reaction to a burqa ban in France.
Broadcaster Al Arabiya had reported Oct 11 that the kidnappers had made demands that would be difficult to meet, including a reversal of the French burqa ban and the release of suspected terrorists imprisoned in France and Mauritania.