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Saturday 14 December 2019

Irish dad back with family after ordeal

Claire McNeilly

THE Irish father of two who managed to escape the hostage crisis in Algeria has spent the weekend reunited with his wife and family.

Stephen McFaul broke away from al-Qa'ida militants by running for his life when a Jeep in which he was travelling with his captors crashed.

The 36-year-old oil worker from Belfast returned home briefly on Friday evening following a debriefing with UK Ministry of Defence officials in London.

However, it is understood Mr McFaul, who had been working at the Amenas gas facility in Algeria which was stormed, spent Saturday in England.

Mr McFaul was one of hundreds of workers taken hostage by terrorists linked to al-Qa'ida during a dawn raid on the compound last Wednesday.

Mr McFaul, who has two sons, Dylan (13) and four-year-old Jake, was the only person from Ireland to be taken hostage.

Al-Qa'ida's branch in Algeria retreated into a Sahara no man's land between Mali, Algeria and Mauritania after it was largely defeated by the Algerian army in a 10-year war in the 1990s that claimed 200,000 lives. There it grew rich on smuggling and hostage-taking, gained new recruits and re-emerged stronger than ever, armed with looted high-tech weapons from Libya's 2011 civil war. Algeria's Islamists were driven south into the desert by the military's brutal counterinsurgency tactics - a take-no-prisoners approach .

Irish Independent

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