Spain has officially confirmed that two of its nationals held by al Qaeda in North Africa have been freed. Albert Vilalta and Roque Pascual were abducted in Mauritania when the aid convoy they were with was ambushed last November. Following being set free, their first stop was to be Barcelona. In Madrid, without going into detail about how they were liberated, the Spanish Prime Minister said: “It was nearly nine months of suffering for them and their families. 268 days of work and worry for the Spanish government, which sought through political, diplomatic and intelligence means to obtain their release.” Mauritania has been rocked by attacks by the radical Islamic group al Qaeda, which has spread operations across the vast Sahara desert. Officials have declined to comment on whether the extradition from Mauritania of Malian Omar Sahraoui, convicted of the aid workers’ abduction to Mali was linked with efforts to free the hostages.