Mali: 4 prisoners exchanged for French hostage

2014-12-15 09:36
France's Serge Lazarevic hugs French President Francois Hollande after he arrived at Villacoublay's military airport. (Christophe Ena, AP)

France's Serge Lazarevic hugs French President Francois Hollande after he arrived at Villacoublay's military airport. (Christophe Ena, AP)

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Paris - The Malian government says it exchanged four prisoners to secure the release of a French hostage held for three years by al-Qaeda's North African branch.

The liberation of Serge Lazarevic last week revived debate among Western governments over whether to negotiate with hostage-takers.

Mali government spokesman Mahamane Baby said on Sunday that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb demanded the release of six prisoners "but the government freed only four, including two Malians".

The French government has not publicly confirmed a prisoner exchange or explained the circumstances of Lazarevic's release.

France insists it pays no ransoms and does not exchange prisoners, although President Francois Hollande has acknowledged that other countries have done so, "to help us".

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  francois hollande  |  france  |  mali

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