Irish hostage in Algeria free: Dublin

17th January 2013, Comments 0 comments

An Irish passport holder held hostage by Islamist kidnappers at a gas field in Algeria is free, "safe and well", the Irish foreign ministry said Thursday.

The man was named in media reports as 36-year-old Stephen McFaul from Belfast in Northern Ireland.

Although Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, its residents are entitled to hold both British and Irish passports.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade wishes to advise that the Irish national held hostage in the Amenas gas-field compound has made contact with his family and is understood to be safe and well and no longer a hostage," a spokesman said.

It was not clear whether he had escaped or was freed.

The announcement came after the kidnappers said Algerian troops launched strikes on the remote desert gas complex where dozens of foreigners had been held, killing nearly 50 people, most of them hostages.

According to the APS news agency, the Algerian army freed four hostages, including two Britons, a Frenchman and a Kenyan.

Earlier on Thursday, McFaul's family had appealed for his safe release.

"We are all very concerned about his welfare and want to see him released to us as a matter of urgency, free from harm," they said in a statement read out on their behalf by a local MP, Sinn Fein's Paul Maskey.

© 2013 AFP

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