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French aid trio freed in Yemen

Al-Qaida group releases humanitarian workers after ransom of "several million dollars" paid

THREE French aid workers who have been held hostage by an alleged Al-Qaida group in Yemen have been freed after nearly six months.

The two women and one man have not been named but are all said to be in "good health". They are en-route for Oman where they will board a plane back to France.

A ransom of "several million dollars" was said to have been paid for the three after negotiations involving a leading Yemeni businessman, now exiled in Oman.

They all worked for the French non-governmental aid group Triangle Génération Humanitaire, and news of their release was given in a statement by the Elysée.

President Sarkozy said he "warmly thanked the sultan of Oman and the Omani authorities for their decisive help as well as all those who contributed to this happy outcome".

Triangle vice-president Pierre Verbruggen said he shared the "great relief" on hearing the news.

Al-Qaida groups have taken over large areas of the south of the country since a widespread rebellion against President Ali Abdulla Saleh, who has ruled for 30 years.

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