Three French hostages in Yemen freed

Reuters , Monday 14 Nov 2011

France President Sarkozy thanks the Sultan of Oman for his country’s role in releasing three French aid workers held hostage in Yemen

Three French aid workers held hostage in Yemen since May 28 have been freed, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday.

The three hostages, two women and a man, worked for French charity Triangle Generation Humanitaire and had been kidnapped at a restaurant in the southeastern province of Hadramout.

The Arabian Peninsula country has been in the grip of civil unrest for months and Hadramout is among provinces where al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing has been active.

"The president warmly thanks the Sultan of Oman and the Omanese authorities for their crucial help, as well as all those who contributed to this happy resolution," the president's office said in a statement.

The statement, which said Sarkozy "shared the joy" of the aid workers' families, did not say how their release had been secured.

A spokeswoman for Sarkozy declined to provide further details.

Christian Lombard, head of Triangle, said he did not know whether a ransom had been paid for the release of the hostages, but said they would be flown back to Paris by Wednesday at the latest.

"We have no details on how it happened," he told France Info radio.

Kidnappings of Western tourists or workers by tribes seeking ransom or concessions from the government have been frequent in Yemen, one of the poorest Arab countries. Most hostages have been freed unharmed.

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