Four French men who were held hostage by al-Qaida-linked militants in Niger have arrived home, ending a more than three-year ordeal.
A plane carrying the men landed at an airport outside Paris on Wednesday, a day after France announced their release. French President Francois Hollande and the families of the former hostages were waiting to greet them.
The French government has denied paying a ransom for the men. However, the French news agency (AFP) reports that at least $28 million may have been paid to secure their release.
The French nationals were captured by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in September 2010. At the time, they were working for the French nuclear firm Areva.
On Tuesday, the French defense minister said an initiative taken by Niger allowed the men to be liberated without fighting or France paying a ransom.