France says Yemen hostage video is genuine

The existence of the video of Isabelle Prime, a consultant for Yemen's Social Fund for Development, was reported by French regional daily Ouest-France. (Photo courtesy: Facebook)

France authenticated on Monday a video that shows a Frenchwoman taken hostage in Yemen appealing to President Francois Hollande and Yemen's exiled leader to help her and it said it was doing all it could to secure her release.

The video, seen by Reuters, shows Isabelle Prime, a consultant for Yemen's Social Fund for Development, crouching on sand and in distress. Dressed in black, she makes her appeal to Hollande and Yemen's Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi in English.

"Mr. Hollande and Mr. Hadi, my name is Isabelle, I've been kidnapped 10 weeks ago in Yemen, in Sanaa. Please bring me to France fast because I'm really, really tired.

"I tried to kill myself several times because I know you will not cooperate and I totally understand."

Prime and her Yemeni translator Shereen Makawi were abducted by gunmen in the capital Sanaa in February while the pair were on their way to work. Yemeni tribal sources said in March that Prime would be released, but only Makawi was freed.

There has been no public claim of responsibility for her abduction so far. The video first appeared on YouTube on May 4.

"It is a video in which Isabelle Prime appears. All the relevant state services are mobilized to free our compatriot," the French foreign ministry said on Monday without elaborating.

In recent years tribesmen have taken foreigners hostage to press the government to provide them with services or to free jailed relatives.

Yemen is also home to one of the most active branches of al-Qaeda, to which tribal kidnappers have reportedly often sold their kidnapping victims.

Since Prime's abduction the situation in Yemen has become more complex. Hadi fled into exile in March after Iranian-allied Houthi fighters, who had seized the capital Sanaa last September, advanced towards his southern stronghold in Aden.

A Saudi-led coalition is carrying out air strikes on Houthi positions in an effort to restore him to power. France provides intelligence to that coalition, officials have said.

Nearly 2,000 people have been killed and more than 8,000 wounded.

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Last Update: 06:47 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47
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