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French journalists arrive home after Syria hostage ordeal

Four French journalists taken hostage in Syria arrived home on Sunday to an emotional reunion with family and colleagues after spending 10 months in captivity in the world's most dangerous country for the media. Looking thin and tired but overjoyed, the men hugged relatives and colleagues waiting at an air base southwest of Paris where they landed early Sunday after flying in from Turkey. "It was a long haul, but we never lost hope," said radio reporter Didier Francois, at 53 the eldest of the four, at the Villacoublay base where they were due to undergo medical checks.

White House: No US visa for Iran pick as UN envoy

The United States will not grant a visa to Tehran's newly appointed UN ambassador, Hamid Aboutalebi, who has been linked to the 1979 US hostage crisis, the White House said Friday. "We have informed the United Nations and Iran that we will not issue a visa for Mr Aboutalebi," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. As the host government, the United States generally is obliged to issue visas to diplomats who serve at the United Nations, although there have been exceptions.

Protesters in east Ukraine deny having explosives, holding hostages

LUHANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) - Protesters occupying the state security building in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, on Tuesday denied a charge that they had wired the building with explosives and were holding people against their will. "There are no explosives, no hostages. We do not need hostages to get what we want," said Anton, one of the protesters who described himself as a coordinator of the action. Earlier Ukraine's state security service said the protesters were using weapons to hold about 60 people against their will.

Yemen troops free UN staff kidnapped in Sanaa

Yemeni troops freed an Italian UN staffer and his driver on Tuesday, hours after they were abducted from a diplomatic district of the capital, the interior ministry said. The Italian UN Development Programme employee was "in good" health" after his ordeal, the latest in a spate of abductions of Westerners in Yemen in recent months, a ministry official told AFP. The kidnappers were stopped at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Sanaa where they were arrested and the hostages freed, the official said. He did not elaborate on the kidnappers' identity or motives.

Yemen troops free UN staff kidnapped in Sanaa

Yemeni troops freed an Italian UN staffer and his driver on Tuesday, hours after they were abducted from a diplomatic district of the capital, the interior ministry said. The Italian UN Development Programme employee was "in good" health" after his ordeal, the latest in a spate of abductions of Westerners in Yemen in recent months, a ministry official told AFP. The kidnappers were stopped at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Sanaa where they were arrested and the hostages freed, the official said. He did not elaborate on the kidnappers' identity or motives.

Yemen security forces free Western hostages soon after kidnap

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemeni security forces freed two Westerners unharmed on Tuesday shortly after they were kidnapped by gunmen in the capital Sanaa, police sources said, in an incident highlighting the growing security threat in the country. Kidnapping is common in U.S.-allied Yemen, where the government is struggling to contain an insurgency from Islamists linked to al Qaeda, a southern separatist movement, fighting in the country's north and sporadic conflicts with armed tribes.

Ukraine president gives Crimea leaders three hours to release navy chief

Ukraine's acting president on Wednesday said Crimea's separatist leaders had three hours to release the detained head of the ex-Soviet state's navy or face "an adequate response". Acting president Oleksandr Turchynov said in a statement that "unless Admiral (Sergiy) Gayduk and all the other hostages -- both military and civilian ones -- are released, the authorities will carry out an adequate response... of a technical and technological nature." zak/mfp

Security officials rescue 11 foreign hostages in SW Pakistan

Pakistani officials on Saturday said they had rescued 11 kidnapped foreigners - eight Iranians, two Tunisians and one Yemeni national - in the southwest town of Turbat near the Iranian border. The security officials told AFP that those freed did not include a group of Iranian border guards believed to have been kidnapped by jihadists and taken to Pakistan in early February, sparking diplomatic tensions. "11 foreigners were rescued in a raid in a neighbourhood of Turbat town, some 1,050 kilometres (656 miles) west of Quetta," a security official told AFP.

Security officials rescue 11 foreign hostages in SW Pakistan

Pakistani officials on Saturday said they had rescued 11 kidnapped foreigners - eight Iranians, two Tunisians and one Yemeni national - in the southwest town of Turbat near the Iranian border. The security officials told AFP that those freed did not include a group of Iranian border guards believed to have been kidnapped by jihadists and taken to Pakistan in early February, sparking diplomatic tensions. "11 foreigners were rescued in a raid in a neighbourhood of Turbat town, some 1,050 kilometres (656 miles) west of Quetta," a security official told AFP.

Manila calls on H.K. to be 'sober' in dealing with bus tragedy

The Philippines on Wednesday called on Hong Kong officials to have a clear head and orderly mind in dealing with the botched Manila bus hostage crisis that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead in 2010. "We call on the Hong Kong authorities to be sober and to reflect rationally on this issue," Raul Hernandez, a spokesman for the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement.
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