France denies paying ransom for hostages in Yemen

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France insisted on Monday that it had not paid a ransom for the release of three French hostages kidnapped by Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen.

"We do not pay ransoms," French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said during a press conference.

The trio of aid workers -- two women and one man who worked with French NGO Triangle Generation Humanitaire -- had boarded a French plane and were on their way to Paris after news of their release broke early Monday.

In July tribal sources in Yemen said the French aid workers, who have not been identified, were seized by Al-Qaeda militants in the town of Seyun, 600 kilometres (370 miles) east of Sanaa.

Several days later, the sources said the kidnappers were demanding a ransom of $12 million (8.8 million euros).

On Monday, a tribal chief involved in mediation efforts with Al-Qaeda said a ransom was paid to secure their release but he did not specify who paid it or how much was paid.

Some in France have criticised authorities for reportedly paying such ransoms, with newspaper Le Figaro reporting last month that "France has taken on the bad habit of paying ransoms to the different rebel movements who kidnap its citizens abroad."

© 2011 AFP

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