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South African Journalist Held by Islamic State Back Home

FILE - South African Shiraaz Mohamed is seen in Johannesburg in this undated photo.

A South African photojournalist has returned home after spending three years in captivity with the Islamic State in Syria, his family said Friday in Johannesburg.

Shiraaz Mohamed was taken hostage in early 2017. The charity group Gift of the Givers said Mohamed was in the country to document the plight of Syrians under the nation's grinding, brutal civil war. In December, the charity tweeted that the photojournalist had been freed and was awaiting coordination between the South African and Turkish governments to fly home.

The circumstances surrounding Mohamed's release are unclear. The Reuters news agency quoted Gift of Givers as saying the South African foreign ministry had confirmed it was in contact with Turkish intelligence, which said Mohamed was with them. But the charity received no other information.

Turkey borders northern Syria, where Mohamed was kidnapped.

In a Friday statement, Mohamed's family confirmed his return but declined to comment further, saying, "owing to his recent circumstances, he and our family are requesting that we be given some space."

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