Irish man held in Algeria is no longer a hostage

Understood the man is safe, well & free

The Irish man held hostage in Algeria has made contact with his family and is understood to be safe and freed from captivity.

The Department of Foreign Affairs says the man - who has now been named as Stephen McFaul - has made contact with his family and has told them he is no longer a hostage. 

The Irish national was held hostage in the Amenas gas-field compound.

The 36-year-old who is from Belfast spoke to his wife to confirm the news.

Conflicting earlier reports

It was earlier reported that a number of people had been killed after an airstrike on a gas field in Algeria where the foreign workers were being held.

Reports quoting an official Algerian source had suggested that up to 25 of the group of foreign workers caught up in the hostage drama have been released.

The Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore says he is extremely "thankful and relieved" that Mr, McFaul is now free and safe.

The situation at the gas plant where a number of other foreign workers are still being held remains unclear.

Stephen McFaul's family have expressed their delight at his release.

The Taoiseach has also welcomed the news.

Enda Kenny said “I am greatly relieved to hear that Stephen is safe and well. I believe he has already spoken to his family in Belfast and I wish him a safe return home to his loved ones".

"I would like to pay tribute to all those who have been involved in the effort to resolve this crisis and my thoughts are with the other oil-field workers and their families who have found themselves at the centre of this traumatic situation" he added.