Italian hostage taken in Algeria freed, official says

An official says an Italian tourist who was kidnapped in 2011 by an Al Qaeda-linked group in Algeria has been freed.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said in a statement Tuesday that Maria Sandra Mariani has been released and her family notified.

Mariani was kidnapped on Feb. 2, 2011 in Algeria's remote southern desert while on a visit organized by a travel agency. Suspicion immediately fell on Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, which is active in the region and has often kidnapped foreigners for ransoms.

Two weeks after the kidnapping, an Al Qaeda spokesman claimed responsibility in a broadcast on Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya during which Mariani also spoke.

Terzi gave no details of how Mariani was freed or whether a ransom was paid.