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France says Yemen hostage video is genuine
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In this image made from a militant video posted on YouTube on Monday, June 1, 2015 which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, Frenchwoman Isabelle Prime, who was kidnapped in February while working for a consultancy firm with ties to the World Bank, addresses the French president, in Yemen. (AP)

In this image made from a militant video posted on YouTube on Monday, June 1, 2015 which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, Frenchwoman Isabelle Prime, who was kidnapped in February while working for a consultancy firm with ties to the World Bank, addresses the French president, in Yemen. (AP)

Paris, Reuters—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 Abd Rabbo 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 in the conflict since March 19, the United Nations has said.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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