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Swiss hostage held in Mali freed

The Swiss national held hostage by al-Qaida extremists in Mali has been set free, the Swiss Foreign Ministry has confirmed.

This content was published on July 12, 2009 - 14:57

The man, seized with three others near the Mali border in Niger in January, is the last of the Western hostages held by a group calling itself al-Qaida in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM). His Swiss wife was among two abductees freed in April.

The foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday that it that it was "relieved" and felt "great joy" that the efforts to free the man had been successful. The 57 year old will now receive treatment from a doctor before returning to Switzerland, it added.

The statement also thanked the authorities in Mali as well as those in Switzerland for their work in securing the release.

In May AQIM announced on a website that it had killed the remaining British hostage Edwin Dyer and also threatened the life of the Swiss man.

Switzerland swiftly condemned the killing as a "barbaric act" but insisted this would not deter Bern from making "intense efforts" to seek the release of its national.

Officials in both Mali and Switzerland said later that no ransom was paid. An Algerian newspaper claimed the kidnappers received up to €4 million (SFr6.06 million).

The group had been demanding the release of radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada from a British prison. Qatada has been named by a Spanish judge as the right-hand man in Europe of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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