MADRID, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero confirmed Monday that two Spanish hostages kidnapped nine months ago by al-Qaida's North African branch had been released.
"Roque Pascual and Albert Vilaltra are free," said Zapatero, with words officially marking the end of 268-day captivity.
The two men were kidnapped last November, along with another female worker, Alicia Gamez, who was released in April this year. The three Spaniards were en route to deliver humanitarian aid to Somalia when al-Qaida attacked their aid convoy in Mauritania.
"This long, complex and laborious operation has put an end to any further suffering for them and their families," said Zapatero, confirming the two men would arrive in Barcelona later in the day.
The Barcelona based charity, Accio Solidaria, where the hostages were working for, has also confirmed that they are in a "safe area".
The kidnapping of Pascual and Vilaltra is the longest one which has been carried out by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Besides the three Spaniards, AQIM also captured a British and a French hostage last year.
- Al-Qaeda frees 2 Spanish hostages 2010-08-23