|Map of Yemen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
"The Finnish couple and their Austrian friend who were snatched by al-Qaida group from the Yemeni capital of Sanaa in December last year were released through mediation of the Omani government and the Yemeni tribe on Wednesday night," the senior official told Xinhua by phone, requesting anonymity.
"A big ransom of money, about millions of U.S. dollars, has been paid to the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in return of releasing the hostages," he said, adding that "the group was handed over on Wednesday night to the Omani officials."
"The Yemeni government did not participate in the mediation process," he added.
An editor at the Finnish Broadcasting Company in the Finnish capital of Helsinki told Xinhua that "the Finnish Foreign Ministry will hold a press conference in Helsinki on the release of the Finnish hostages in Yemen."
On Dec. 21, 2012, the three Europeans, who studied Arabic language in a school in the old city in Sanaa, were kidnapped from a busy street.
A specialist on al-Qaida issues said "successful negotiations" led to the release of the hostages.
"Negotiations had succeeded thanks to the Omani government ... and tribal mediators also hope that Saudi Arabia do the same thing and send honest negotiators, not agents and spies, to free a Saudi diplomat hostage who is still in the hands of al-Qaida militants since 2012," Abdelrazak al-Jamal told Xinhua by phone, citing a statement by the Yemeni tribal mediators.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida wing, the most active terrorist network in the Arab country, has been holding Abdullah al-Khaledi, the Saudi deputy consul in Yemen's southern port city of Aden, for almost one year and a half.
Al-Khaledi has made several appeals to the Saudi king to help free him since he was snatched by the AQAP on March 28, 2012.
On Feb. 27, a Swiss woman kidnapped by the AQAP in Yemen for one year was released through a Qatari mediation.
Editor: Mu Xuequan