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Freed Algeria hostage due home

Family and friends of a Northern Ireland man who escaped the Algerian hostage crisis are preparing to welcome him home.

Father-of-two Stephen McFaul, 36, is heading home to west Belfast.

Explosives were placed around his neck by al Qaida-linked kidnappers but he was able to flee after a vehicle he was in crashed while coming under attack from Algerian forces, said his brother Brian.

Members of the family have been in contact with the electrician supervisor. Brian McFaul said: "He had explosives tied around his neck. He was being transported in a convoy of five vehicles when they came under attack. His vehicle crashed."

He made contact with his wife Angela at around 3pm on Thursday to say he was safe and well. His 13-year-old son Dylan declared he would give him a "big hug" as soon as he sees him.

Mr McFaul, who also has a four-year-old son Jake, has been looked after by Algerian authorities while arrangements are made for his return.

Mr McFaul's father Christopher said his son is an easy-going, happy-go-lucky person who took everything in his stride, but that he was worried for him and delighted he had come through the ordeal at the gasfield complex in Amenas.

A spokesman for Mr McFaul's family said his mood was bright and added that he was nervously excited about returning home.

He is expected to arrive back in Northern Ireland on Friday or Saturday.

The spokesman said the Belfast man was on a flight specially chartered by his employer. He will meet officials from the Foreign Office before returning to Belfast.

Press Association

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