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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 January 2006, 11:02 GMT
Haiti gang frees French nationals
A Brazilian peacekeeper at a checkpoint in Port-au-Prince
Hostages are often released after the payment of a ransom
Three French citizens and their local driver who were abducted on Wednesday in Haiti have been released unharmed, police said.

The trio, including an 85-year-old nun, were handed over to the French Embassy and will be returning to France.

They were seized as they drove from Port-au-Prince airport into the capital by gunmen who demanded a ransom.

Haiti has been plagued by violence since early 2004, when President Jean Bertrand Aristide was ousted.

"We confirm that the three French nationals abducted in Port-au-Prince have been freed and are safe," said a French Foreign Ministry official.

The circumstances surrounding their release has not been revealed.

Kidnappings on the Caribbean state have become rife. Last month, there were 162 reported kidnap cases in Haiti. Hostages are often released after the payment of a ransom.

A UN force of more than 8,000 has been unable to suppress the unrest. Elections, scheduled for 7 February, could be postponed in the face of continued violence.

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