Spanish hostages freed in Mali return home through Burkina Faso

09:13, August 24, 2010      

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The two Spanish hostages freed in Mali are going home by way of neighboring Burkina Faso, according to reports reaching on Monday.

The Spanish government on Monday confirmed the release of Albert Vilaltra and Roque Pascual by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Bamako declined to make comments just before the confirmation by the Spanish government, saying negotiations were still going on to seek their release. A diplomat told Xinhua that the release could come to mark the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Reports monitored here said Spanish officials and the families of the hostages had arrived in Mali before the release at the border with Burkina Faso. The hostages would then arrive in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, in the afternoon to be flown to Spain hours later.

The release of Albert Vilaltra and Roque Pascual put an end to "a terrorist act that should never have taken place," Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said in a statement.

The two hostages, both working for non-governmental organization Barcelona Accio Solidaria (Barcelona Solidarity Action), were captured in November along with their female co- worker Alicia Gamez by AQIM. Gamez was released in March.

Vilaltra and Pascual were believed to have been held hostage by AQIM somewhere in the northern Mali desert.

Spanish media had reported on the release of the two aid workers prior to the statement of Zapatero, who did not comment on reports that Spain had paid 3.8 million euros (4.8 million dollars) for the freedom of the two aid workers.

The Spanish government told Spanish state television RTVE earlier that it had used every diplomatic avenue available to secure the release of the two men.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:李牧(实习))

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