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FRENCH HOSTAGE CRISIS

YEMEN

Father of French hostage appeals for ‘humanity’

The father of a French woman taken hostage in Yemen on Tuesday called on her kidnappers "to show their humanity" and set her free along with the Yemeni woman taken at the same time.

Father of French hostage appeals for 'humanity'
Isabelle Prime, who has been taken hostage in Yemen. Photo: Screengrab/ BFM TV

France revealed on Tuesday that a  30-year-old woman working for the World Bank was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in the Yemeni capital and again urged its citizens to quickly leave the country.

The woman, named Isabelle Prime, was abducted on the way to work, reported French channel BFM TV. She was taken by six men dressed as policemen, while her driver escaped.

In a statement sent to AFP on Thursday, Jean-Noel Prime, the father of the kidnapped woman said: "We face up to this challenge with confidence, and we are staying close to the French authorities with whom we are in permanent contact and who we know are determined to see our daughter set free."  

"Isabelle loved Yemen and wished to continue her work even in difficult conditions," said Jean-Noel Prime.
   
He described his daughter's work as "social and for the benefit of Yemen's people".
   
"I have been living a nightmare for the past two days," he told AFP by phone.
 
Isabelle Prime herself was well aware of the danger of the area, telling a French newspaper last year: "Yemen is not a country at war, but there is a constant risk of attack, so we need to have armed guards."

Yemen has descended into chaos since Shiite Huthi militia swept into Sanaa from their mountain stronghold in the north last year, eventually prompting the president and prime minister to resign.

French President François Hollande called for the woman to be released "as soon as possible", adding that authorities were working to locate her.

A number of Western nationals have been taken hostage in Yemen in recent years. In December, US journalist Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie were killed by Al-Qaeda militants in the southern Shabwa region during a failed US-Yemeni rescue bid.

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HOSTAGE

Two guards freed at French prison as hostage standoff ends

An inmate armed with a homemade weapon took two guards hostage at a high-security prison in northwest France on Tuesday before both were freed unharmed five hours later, authorities said.

Two guards freed at French prison as hostage standoff ends
Police tactical units arrived by helicopter as the hostage situation unfolded. Photo: AFP
Police tactical units arrived by helicopter as the hostage situation unfolded at the Conde-sur-Sarthe Penitentiary Centre, which holds dangerous or radicalised prisoners and those with serious discipline problems.
   
The prisoner, armed with the improvised weapon, had taken the guard and the female trainee hostage during meal time, officials said.
   
The guard was released first and then the female trainee was also freed, both “safe and sound”, before the prisoner surrendered, the national Prison Administration Directorate said.
 
Photo: AFP
   
No further details were immediately available about how the guards were freed or whether it involved a negotiation.
   
A justice ministry source said the inmate has a history of psychiatric problems and hostage taking. He has convictions for robbery, rape and for the murder of a prison cellmate.
   
Elite police units had arrived at the prison by three helicopters, an AFP photographer at the scene said.
   
Security measures were increased in Conde-sur-Sarthe after a prisoner stabbed two guards with a homemade knife in March. After failed negotiations to end a standoff, security units launched an assault, wounding the prisoner.
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