- Title: NIGER: Freed French hostages leave Niger after three years in the Sahara
- Date: 30th October 2013
- Summary: NIAMEY, NIGER (OCTOBER 30, 2013) (REUTERS) FREED HOSTAGES DANIEL LARRIBE, THIERRY DOL ARRIVING AT AIRPORT WITH FRENCH DEFENCE MINISTER JEAN-YVES LE DRIAN, LARRIBE ANSWERING REPORTER'S QUESTION SAYING (upsound in French) "Yes I'm very happy" FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER, LAURENT FABIUS, JOINING FREED HOSTAGES (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER, LAURENT FABIUS, SAYING: "Particularly happy for these gentlemen here, they've had a shower, we ate together, they had a good night but on the floor, they can't get used to sleeping on a mattress yet. I'm very happy for their families, it's an extraordinary joy. Really, what they've been through." LE DRIAN SAYING "LET'S GO" LARRIBE ET DOL ENTERING AIRPORT AND WALKING UP ON PLANE STEPS PLANE ON TARMAC PLANE TAXIING ON TARMAC PLANE TAKING OFF
- Embargoed: 14th November 2013 12:00
- Location: Niger
- Country: Niger
- Topics: General,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVACKEHR8ZD3QS2ZTOYC0W57D3ZF
- Story Text: Four Frenchmen held hostage in the Sahara desert by al Qaeda-linked gunmen for three years left Niger on a French government plane on Wednesday (October 30) morning.
"Yes, I'm very happy," said freed hostage Daniel Larribe as he entered the airport in Niger's capital Niamey.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who went to Niamey with Defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian praised the men's resillience.
Fabius said the men were in a state of shock, having been isolated for so long.
"Particularly happy for these gentlemen here, they've had a shower, we ate together, they had a good night but on the floor, they can't get used to sleeping on a mattress yet. I'm very happy for their families, it's an extraordinary joy. Really, what they've been through," Fabius said before the group took off bound for France.
Pierre Legrand, Daniel Larribe, Thierry Dol and Marc Feret were kidnapped by AQIM in September 2010 while working for French nuclear group Areva <AREVA.PA> and a subsidiary of construction group Vinci <SGEF.PA> in Arlit in Niger.
The men's release gave Francois Hollande a boost a day after a poll showed he had become the most unpopular French president on record.
No details have been given on the circumstances of the quartet's release but Niger's President Mohamadou Issoufou said they had been retrieved from northern Mali.
Thousands of French troops were dispatched to Mali's desert north earlier this year to prevent Islamists and criminal gangs operating in the zone who occupied the region in 2012 from extending their reach further south.
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