Niamey  -   An American citizen kidnapped by gunmen in Niger earlier this week has been freed, the country’s defence minister told AFP on Saturday. “I confirm the American hostage was released last night,” minister Issoufou Katambe said, without giving details of the circumstances of the release or the hostage’s whereabouts. The hostage, Philip Walton, described as the son of a missionary living in Niger, was abducted Monday night on the outskirts of Massalata, a village about 10 kilometres (six miles) from the border with Nigeria.