West Belfast MP, Paul Maskey, has spoken of his delight at the release of Stephen McFaul who has been freed after being held hostage in Algeria.

The 36-year-old from Andersonstown in the west of the city was captured by al Qaeda linked militants at a gas field in Amenas on Wednesday.

It’s not yet clear how many hostages were killed after the compound, where up to 40 were being held, was attacked by Algerian military today, Thursday.

The West Belfast MP said: “I have been in touch with Stephen’s family since news came through of his release and they are absolutely delighted.

“There is huge relief that he is safe and well. He has been very much in the thoughts and prayers of the West Belfast community who will also be delighted with this good news.

“Our thoughts are with the other hostages' families and especially those that have lost loved ones throughout the whole episode.

“The McFaul family are now looking forward to having him home and want to thank everyone for their support, best wishes and prayers.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Upper Falls SDLP councillor Tim Attwood.

“This is fantastic news and the news everybody was praying and hoping would come,” he said.

“I’m delighted for his family and friends and hope that he has a swift return home.

“The situation in Algeria is grave and unfortunately, according to reports, not everyone has been able to escape with their freedom.

“The people of West Belfast and right across the country will no doubt be delighted but at the same time saddened that whilst some families celebrate, others face the horrible future of a lost loved one.”