French President Francois Hollande (R) and former hostage Serge Lazarevic hug each other after delivering speeches at the Villacoublay military airport, near Paris, December 10, 2014. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen
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France's last remaining hostage, Serge Lazarevic, arrived home Wednesday after three years at the hands of Islamist militants, to be greeted by his family and French President Francois Hollande.Hollande said it was "an enormous joy" to see him back on French soil.Lazarevic was the last of more than a dozen French citizens taken captive in recent years, with those held in Africa reaching a high of 15 last year.Lazarevic, speaking in the capital of Niger after meeting with President Mahamadou Issoufou following his release, said: "I lost about 20 kilos, but I'm in fine shape.After Lazarevic's appearance with a thick beard and dark headdress in the last video, his daughter Diane urged Hollande to obtain his release "as fast as possible ... for Christmas".Hollande thanked the authorities in Mali and Niger for their assistance in securing Lazarevic's release.While the details of Lazarevic's release were not given, France has repeatedly denied paying ransoms despite being accused by other Western nations of using back-channels to do so.
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