A French woman who was abducted in Yemen in February has been freed, the French president's office said early on Friday, adding that she would return to France in the coming hours.
French hostage freed
In recent years tribesmen in Yemen have taken foreigners hostage to press the government to provide them with services or to free jailed relatives.
Isabelle Prime, a consultant for Yemen's Social Fund for Development, and her translator Shereen Makawi were abducted by gunmen in the capital Sanaa on Feb. 24 while they were on their way to work. Yemeni tribal sources said in March Prime would be released, but only Makawi was freed at the time.
Authorities in neighbouring Oman have helped in locating Prime and bringing her to the Gulf Arab sultanate at dawn before her return to France, official news agency ONA cited an unnamed official at the Omani Foreign Ministry as saying on Friday.
"Our compatriot Isabelle Prime has been freed tonight," the French statement said.
"The President of the Republic (Francois Hollande) wishes to thank all those who helped reach this outcome, and in particular Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, the Sultan of Oman," the statement said, without providing any details.
Oman has often played a mediating role in hostages release and in regional diplomacy.
Kidnappings of Westerners occur sporadically in Yemen, mostly carried out by al Qaeda militants and tribesmen.
Yemen is also home to one of the most active branches of al Qaeda, to which tribal kidnappers have often sold their kidnapped victims, according to Yemeni security officials.
In June, France authenticated a video that showed Prime dressed in black and making an appeal to Francois Hollande and Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in English.
"Please bring me to France fast because I'm really, really tired," she had said in the video, in which she was seen crouching on sand and in distress. "I tried to kill myself several times because I know you will not cooperate and I totally understand."
The video first appeared on YouTube on May 4.
Since Prime's abduction, the situation in Yemen has become more complex. Hadi fled into exile in March after Iranian-allied Houthi fighters, who had seized the capital Sanaa last September, advanced towards his southern stronghold in Aden.
Yemen's Arab neighbours have intervened to halt the advance of the Houthis, who are Shi'ite Muslims from the north.
The Houthis have been pounded with air strikes for more than four months, and the raids and other warfare have killed more than 4,000 people. Disease, hunger and water shortages have also contributed to a humanitarian crisis.
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