Two French hostages freed in Nigeria: French minister

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Two French nationals who were kidnapped from an oil platform off Nigeria last week have been freed, French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said Wednesday.

"Michele Alliot-Marie is pleased with the release of the two Frenchmen who had been taken hostage, along with five other people, on an oil platform in Nigeria overnight November 7-8," a statement said.

Along with the two Frenchmen, two Americans, a Canadian and two Indonesians had been abducted. The fate of the others was not known.

The foreign ministry statement said Alliot-Marie's "first thoughts are with our compatriots and those who went through this ordeal with them".

She also thanked "those who contributed to the release, notably the Nigerian authorities" but added that their release was still overshadowed by the fate of other French nationals who were being held hostage.

A French intelligence agent, Denis Allex, has been held in Somalia since July last year and two French television reporters, Herve Ghesquiere and Stephane Taponier, were kidnapped in Afghanistan in December.

Five people, most of them working for French nuclear engineering group Areva and the Satom company, are being held in Mali by Al-Qaeda's north African branch.

France last week announced the release of three French nationals who had been kidnapped overnight September 21-22 in an attack of an offshore oil field off the Nigerian coast.

© 2010 AFP

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