Canadian diplomats freed from al-Qaeda captors in Mali

Freed Canadian diplomats Robert Fowler and Louis Guay left Mali yesterday aboard a Canadian government plane bound for Germany this weekend to be reunited with their families. The two men were freed by their al-Qaeda-linked captors after four months of captivity.

Two Europeans separately captured by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) were simultaneously let go. Reports from Algeria suggest that an unnamed European government paid AQIM factions a multimillion-dollar ransom. While this transaction has not been officially confirmed, countries such as Germany and Austria have been reported to have made similar payments in parallel cases.

Before the release, the Canadian government had been mounting a massive diplomatic effort and rescue operation in West Africa. Officials in Ottawa said Canada paid no ransom.