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French Red Cross official freed in Yemen

French Red Cross official Benjamin Malbrancke, who was kidnapped in Yemen April 21, was released by militants two days ago.

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French Red Cross official Benjamin Malbrancke, 28, who was kidnapped in Yemen April 21, was released by militants two days ago.

"The Frenchman was released two days ago and is now in the Red Cross headquarters in Sanaa from where he will travel" home, a government official told Agence France-Presse.

Malbrancke was abducted by gunmen earlier this year while on his way to the airport in the northern port city of Hudaida, according to AFP. Two drivers were kidnapped at the same time, but were freed shortly afterward.

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"We are relieved and extremely happy to have our colleague back with us, in good health. His return marks the end of many long, hard days, full of anxiety for him and his family, as well as for the team here in Yemen and for his friends," Eric Marclay, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross operations in Yemen, told CNN. "We would like to express our deep gratitude to all those who have lent us their support during these long weeks, so that Benjamin can now look forward to soon rejoining his family."

Malbrancke was handed over by a group called Ansar al-Shari'a in Shabwa, but it was still unclear who was behind the kidnapping, reported the Associated Press. Foreigners have repeatedly been targeted for kidnapping by Yemeni tribal groups, and an offshoot of al Qaeda also operates in the Middle Eastern country.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/120714/french-red-cross-official-freed-yemen