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Yemen 'starts talks over German and UK hostages'

Saada map

Yemen has started negotiations with kidnappers holding one British and five German hostages, the Yemeni foreign minister has said.

"Their whereabouts have been determined. They are in Saada," Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qurbi said, referring to an area in northern Yemen.

The six hostages, three children among them, were seized in June.

On Monday, Yemeni officials told the German foreign minister they knew where the five Germans were being held.

Saada has been the scene of clashes with Shia rebels.

Insurgency

The hostages were seized while picnicking in the northern Saada region. The kidnapped adults all worked at a local hospital.

Two German nurses and a South Korean aid worker - who were part of the group - were found dead later in June.

The Yemeni government has blamed a local Shia rebel group, led by Abdulmalik al-Houthi, for the kidnapping, but it has denied any involvement.

The group has fought a sporadic insurgency in the Zaidi Shia heartland between Sanaa and the border with Saudi Arabia.

More than 200 foreign nationals have been kidnapped in Yemen in the past 15 years, often for ransom. Most have been released unharmed.



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