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French hostages 'in good health'

The four French nationals held hostage by al Qaeda’s north African offshoot in Niger since last September are well and negotiations for their release are continuing, a negotiator has told AFP.

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AFP - Four French hostages kidnapped by a North African offshoot of Al-Qaeda in Niger last September were "doing well", a mediator said, adding negotiations for their release were ongoing.

A few days ago, the kidnappers "told us the hostages were doing well. We have no reason to doubt this," the negotiator told AFP.

He did not say what the nature of the contact was, or when exactly it took place.

"I can say that the negotiations are continuing. That is already a good sign," the negotiator said.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) abducted seven people working for French firms - five French nationals, a Togolese and a Madagascan - from Arlit in northern Niger, the centre of a big uranium mining operation.

A French woman, the Togolese and Madagascan were freed in February this year, leaving four male French hostages in captivity.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb operates across several desert countries in the Sahel, and both Mali and Niger have played host to their activities.
 

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