PARIS — Four Frenchmen held hostage by al-Qaida militants landed in France today after three years in captivity in the punishing African Sahel.
President Francois Hollande greeted each of the hostages on the tarmac at a military airport outside Paris.
At the time of their capture, the four — Pierre Legrand, Thierry Dol, Marc Feret and Daniel Larribe — were working in Arlit, Niger, where the French state-controlled nuclear giant Areva operates a uranium mine. They were retrieved in northern Mali on Tuesday. Both countries are in Sahel, the arid region that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea just south of the Sahara Desert that is prowled by militants from al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
Amid the immense joy of the homecoming, Hollande recalled that there are still seven French citizens being held hostage, three in Africa and four in Syria.