June 26, 2017 / 3:06 PM / 2 years ago

Al Qaeda releases Swedish hostage after almost six years

A picture of freed hostage Johan Gustafsson and his family at Arlanda airport after his arrival in Sweden on Monday, is shown during a press conference with Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom at government headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden June 26, 2017. TT News Agency/Marcus Ericsson via REUTERS

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A Swedish citizen held hostage by al Qaeda militants for nearly six years has been released, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

Johan Gustafsson, 42, was kidnapped in November 2011 in Timbuktu, during a motor cycle trip in Mali, along with two people from South Africa and the Netherlands.

The kidnappers has earlier demanded 5 million dollars for his release, a demand rejected by the Swedish government, according to Swedish Radio, without citing a source.

The Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the question of a ransom.

“It is with great joy I can say that Johan Gustafsson has been released and will be able to return to Sweden,” Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said in a statement.

Wallstrom said “considerable efforts” were made by the Foreign Ministry, together with the police and other Swedish and foreign authorities, in order to secure Gustafsson’s release.

Reporting by Johan Sennero; Editing by Alison Williams

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