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Spanish hostage flies home from Africa

Spanish hostage flies home from Africa
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A Spanish aid worker kidnapped in West Africa last year has arrived back in Barcelona after being set free by her captors.

Thirty-nine-year-old Alicia Gamez was seized in Mauritania and taken to neighbouring Mali by a militant group which – Spanish officials say – is linked to al-Qaeda.

Her first thoughts were for two colleages still being held.

“I’m very happy to be back home and my happiness will be complete when Albert and Roque will be back too,” she said. “I want to tell you that both of them are in good health. We have been well treated, with respect and they took good care of us within the difficult context of being in the desert.”

Albert Vilalta and Roque Pascual remain captive along with an Italian couple seized in Mauritania last December and taken to Mali.

A Frenchman kidnapped in Mali last November by the same group was released last month in exchange for four prisoners being held in Mali jails.

The deal outraged the Mauritanian government which said at the time that giving in to the kidnappers’ demands would only encourage further hostage-taking.