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Latest update : 2009-08-27

French security agent Marc Aubrière told French radio RFI that he escaped Hezb al-Islam, the Somali insurgent group holding him hostage, by slipping out when his guards were asleep and finding safety with African Union soldiers.

AFP - A French agent told Wednesday of how he sneaked past his Somali kidnappers as they slept then walked by night for five hours across Mogadishu, at one point coming under fire, according to RFI radio.

"I'm doing OK and, even if my month and a half in detention was horribly long, I was well treated. There was no torture, nor fake execution," the former hostage, who gave his name as Marc, told Radio France International.

"On Tuesday, around midnight, I took advantage of my jailers falling asleep, tired out by Ramadan. I saw that my cell was badly closed and so I was able to make off without any violence," he said, according to a transcript provided by RFI.

"In any case, if I'd fired a shot, other guards would have killed me. Then I walked through the night for almost five hours, guided by the stars to get to where I wanted to go," he said.

"Mogadishu is deserted at night and the only men I saw were armed. I was shot at. I ran. I hid and by chance they missed me," he said.

The station said their correspondent had been able to "get in contact" with the hostage, who was safely under the protection of African Union troops.

Two French government agents, whom French authorities said were in Somalia to train a unit of the federal government's presidential guard, were kidnapped on July 14 from their Mogadishu hotel.

One of the men, who a French spokesman said was in the hands of the Hezb al-Islam Islamist militia after the hostages were separated, managed to get away and arrived Wednesday at the Somali presidential palace.

"Despite certain allegations and rumours this happened without violence and France did not pay a ransom," French foreign ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier told reporters in Paris.

The escaped man told RFI that his Hezb al-Islam captors had given him a copy of bestselling author Dan Brown's thriller "Deception Point", and joked that he had been able to read it a dozen times during his ordeal.

Date created : 2009-08-26