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French hostage freed by captors

Pierre Camatte AFP

A French man who had been held by an al-Qaida-linked group in Mali since November has been released. Pierre Camatte was set free Tuesday in the north of the country, and he arrived safely in the capital, Bamako, early Wednesday morning.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed Camatte’s release Tuesday. He was let go following the release of four Islamists from prison by the Malian government earlier this week.

Camatte’s captors, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqmi), had threatened to kill him if the prisoners – two Algerians and two Mauritanians - were not released.

Algeria and Mauritania protested the move to free the men, and have since recalled their ambassadors from Bamako.

Sarkozy thanked Malian President Amadou Toumani Touré for helping with Camatte’s release, according to a statement, and he “assured him of France’s support in the fight against terrorism.”

Five other Europeans are still being held by the group.