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4 French hostages released in Niger, President says

By CNN Staff
October 30, 2013 -- Updated 1023 GMT (1823 HKT)
French President Francois Hollande announces the release of four French hostages during his visit to Slovakia.
French President Francois Hollande announces the release of four French hostages during his visit to Slovakia.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Seven people were abducted by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in 2010
  • Three were released in 2011
  • AQIM posted a video of the four remaining hostages in April 2011
  • French officials are in Niger to bring the men back home

(CNN) -- Four French hostages held in Niger since 2010 have been released, French President Francois Hollande announced Tuesday.

A French Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed the release to CNN, adding that Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian have arrived in Niamey, Niger's capital, to bring the men back to France.

The President's announcement came during a visit to Slovakia.

The men -- Pierre Legrand, Daniel Larribe, Thierry Dol and Marc Feret -- were part of a group of seven people who were abducted by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb on September 16, 2010, in Arlit, a city in central Niger. Three people were released in 2011, including Larribe's wife, Francoise, who was ill, as well as Jean-Claude Rakotorilalao of Madagascar and Alex Awando from Togo.

In April 2011, AQIM released a video of the men asking then-President Nicolas Sarkozy to withdraw French troops from Afghanistan.

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