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'Over the moon:' Belfast family cheers unexpected freedom for man who escaped Algerian siege


This April 19, 2005 photo released by Statoil via NTB scanpix, shows the Ain Amenas gas field in Algeria, where Islamist militants raided and took hostages Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013. As Algerian army helicopters clattered overhead deep in the Sahara desert, Islamist militants hunkered down for the night in the natural gas complex they had assaulted Wednesday morning, killing two people and taking dozens of foreigners hostage in what could be the first spillover from France's intervention in Mali. (AP Photo/Kjetil Alsvik, Statoil via NTB scanpix) NORWAY OUT (The Associated Press)

The Belfast family of Stephen McFaul says it cannot believe he's escaped from the Algerian hostage crisis — and never wants him to work in the oil fields there again.

The 36-year-old Irish electrician telephoned his wife Thursday to say he had escaped the custody of al-Qaida extremists. The news came hours after reports that dozens of hostages may have been killed as the Algerian army struck the militants' positions inside the Ain Amenas plant.

While dozens of families in many nations waited in hope for similar news, the McFauls jumped with joy and expressed tearful disbelief.

His sobbing 13-year-old son Dylan said "I feel over the moon. ... I'll never let him go back there." He plans to give his father "a big hug, and I won't let go."