French woman freed from captivity in Yemen

French aid worker Isabelle Prime was held hostage by gunmen for more than five months before being released.

    French woman freed from captivity in Yemen
    Yemeni protesters called for the release of Prime and her translator immediately after they were captured [AP]

    A French woman who was abducted in Yemen in February has been freed and has arrived in Oman, state media said.

    French President Francois Hollande's office said in a statement early on Friday that the woman, Isabelle Prime, would return to France in the coming hours.

    French aid worker Isabelle Prime 

    "Our compatriot Isabelle Prime has been freed tonight," the statement said.

    "The president ... 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 on her liberation.

    Prime and her Yemeni translator Shereen Makawi were abducted by fighters in the capital Sanaa on February 24, while the pair were on their way to work.

    Yemeni tribal sources said in March that Prime would be released, but only Makawi was freed at the time.

    In recent years tribesmen have taken foreigners hostage to press the government to provide them with services or to free jailed relatives.

    Yemen is also home to one of the most active branches of al-Qaeda, to which tribal kidnappers have reportedly often sold their kidnapped victims.

    In June, France had authenticated a video that showed Prime, a consultant for Yemen's Social Fund for Development, crouching on sand and in distress.

    RELATED: Al Jazeera's comprehensive coverage of the Yemen conflict

    Dressed in black, she made her appeal to President Hollande and Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in English.

    One Minute Yemen

    "Please bring me to France fast because I'm really, really tired," she had said in the video.

    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 Houthi rebel fighters, who had seized the capital Sanaa last September, advanced towards his southern stronghold in Aden.

    Yemen's Arab neighbours have intervened in the country to halt the advance of the Houthis - Shia Muslims from the north.

    Anti-Houthi fighters have recently taken back control of Aden from the rebels.

    The Houthis have been pounded with hundreds of 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 the humanitarian crisis.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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