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French Red Cross official freed in Yemen

By the CNN Wire Staff
July 14, 2012 -- Updated 1434 GMT (2234 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A French Red Cross official abducted by militants in Yemen has been freed, the ICRC says
  • Benjamin Malbrancke was kidnapped the evening of April 21 about 30 kilometers outside Hodeida
  • Malbrancke was traveling with two Yemeni drivers, who were also taken but then released unharmed
  • Kidnappings are common in Yemen

(CNN) -- A French Red Cross official abducted by militants in Yemen has been freed, according to a statement from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Benjamin Malbrancke had been kidnapped the evening of April 21 about 30 kilometers outside the western municipality of Hodeida, while traveling in a Red Cross vehicle.

"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," said Eric Marclay, who heads the ICRC operations in Yemen.

"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 had been traveling with two Yemeni drivers, who were also taken but then released unharmed.

Kidnappings are common in Yemen, which has been beset by political turbulence for more than a year.

Protests led to the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh from office, and the government has battled Islamic militants.

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