Two Spaniards freed by Al-Qaeda in north Africa: report

22nd August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Two Spanish nationals held hostage by Al-Qaeda's north African branch since November have been released, El Pais newspaper reported Sunday citing government sources.

The Spanish government when contacted by AFP said it had "no official confirmation" of the release of Albert Vilalta, 35, and Roque Pascual, 50, captured in Mauritania on November 29.

According to El Pais online "a Spanish plane is ready to fly to the area but the exact point of the handover is not known".

The newspaper added that the families of the hostages and the non-governmental organisation Accio Solidario to which they belong also did not have official confirmation of their release.

Earlier this month a Malian official had said a radical cell of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has executed two Western hostages, was threatening the lives of the two Spaniards, who are held by another branch of AQIM.

But the NGO the men worked for said at the time the families had seen proof that the two were still alive and that negotiations for their release were continuing.

They were among three Accio Solidaria workers kidnapped in Mauritania last November and handed over to AQIM, the North African branch of Osama bin Laden's terror network, in exchange for payment.

AQIM released the third hostage, 39-year-old Alicia Gamez, in March.

© 2010 AFP

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