Austrian, Finns kidnapped by Al Qaeda freed in Yemen: Report


Looking over the ancient old city within the heart of Sana'a, the capital city of Yemen, on Aug. 16, 2010.


Brent Stirton

The Yemen Times reported Thursday that three foreigners believed taken captive by Al Qaeda have been freed. 

The Yemen Times cited top government officials as saying the Finnish couple and Austrian national kidnapped in Sanaa last December have been released to Oman authorities in a village on the Yemen-Oman border. 

Reuters, citing a security source, also said the Europeans had been released in Oman. 

Finland's YLE News was unable to reach the The Yemen Post journalist who claimed to have seen the hostages, but the paper's editor-in-chief, Hakim Almasmari, said the two Finns were in good health. 

The report said Yemen worked hand-in-hand with Omani authorities to secure their release, which was believed negotiated with the help of Qatar. 

Activists in Sanaa last month held a demonstration protesting the kidnapping of foreigners, not an uncommon occurrence given the strength of militants there.

Authorities have been waging an intense offensive against insurgents there in recent months, and The Yemen Times said the government prevailed upon the Hawf tribe at the border village in question to push back against Al Qaeda and help free the Europeans. 

No other information on the report was immediately available.