Authorities in Oman were instrumental in negotiating the release of three French aid workers who were taken hostage in Yemen on May 28. The hostages were held by militants suspected of al Qaeda links.
Three French aid workers who were kidnapped and held hostage by suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen, were released on Sunday. The two women and one man worked for the French aid agency Triangle Generation Humanitaire and were said to be in seemingly good health when they were released.
The almost six month ordeal of the two women and one male hostage began on May 28 when they were kidnapped. Their captors demanded a ransom of $12 million for their release. The Wall Street Journal reported that French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said "You know France's position. We do not pay ransom." In addition to demanding money the kidnappers wanted tribal prisoners to be released by the Yemeni government. They threatened to kill the hostages if their demands were ignored.
It remains unconfirmed if any ransom was paid to secure the release of the hostages which was negotiated by Yemeni businessman Ahmed al-Souraimeh Ferid Ben who lives in Oman, and Omani authorities, Saudi News Today reported. A Yemeni tribesman indicated that a ransom had been paid by Omani authorities.
The hostages were flown by helicopter from the Yemeni city of Shabwa to Oman which offered help due to the country's distinguished relationship with France. French President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a statement saying he "warmly thanks the sultan of Oman and the Oman authorities for their decisive help, as well as all those who contributed to this happy outcome." (The Guardian) Sultan Qaboos Bin Said of Oman offered facilities to help the hostages.
Patrick Verbruggen of Triangle Generation Humanitaire spoke of the released hostages saying "We know they are in good physical shape. We are sharing a moment of happiness."
The release followed the death of ten militants in Yemen on Sunday by government forces.