北非基地组织释放两名西班牙人质

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Two Spanish aid workers kidnapped nine months ago by al-Qaeda's North African offshoot have been released in Mali.

9个月之前被基地组织北非分支劫持的两名西班牙救援人员日前已在马里被释放。

Pascual (left) and Vilalta had been held for almost nine months
Pascual (left) and Vilalta had been held for almost nine months

They stopped in Burkina Faso's capital of Ouagadougou(瓦加杜古) , en route(在途中) to Barcelona, where they arrived early on Tuesday.

Roque Pascual and Albert Vilalta were seized by militants from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mauritania last November.

"This has been 268 days of suffering for them and their families," Spain's PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said.

A female colleague seized with the men, Alicia Gamez, was set free in March.

Their kidnappers had reportedly demanded a $5m (£3.2m) ransom(赎金) for Mr Pascual, 50, and Mr Vilalta, 35. It is unclear if any payment was made, and the Spanish government refused to comment on reports that it had paid a ransom.

'Happy and moved'

The two men arrived in Barcelona in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Mr Vilalta was walking with the help of a crutch(拐杖,支柱) , after sustaining bullet wounds in one leg when he tried to escape on the day of their capture.

Smiling and waving to friends and supporters, Mr Vilalta said: "Now we are free and I'm very happy and very moved."

Speaking of their kidnappers, he added: "They have treated us well - we have lived like they have, we've eaten like they have, we've slept like they have. But it was very hard in the middle of the desert, they are used to it, but we're not."

"For the rest of my life I will try to make up to you what I put you through," said Mr Pascual, as he waved a fist in the air.

Both men thanked the Spanish government for its diplomatic efforts to secure their release.


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