Page last updated at 08:00 GMT, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 09:00 UK

German hostages freed in Yemen by Saudi forces

Saada map

Saudi security forces have freed two German girls kidnapped in Yemen last year, the interior ministry says.

The two children were part of a family of five, kidnapped along with another four people, almost 12 months ago in Yemen's northern region.

Two German nurses and a South Korean were found dead shortly afterward.

The girls were found in the disputed border region between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, a statement said. The condition of the remaining hostages is unknown.

Another German toddler, the children's parents and a British national are still missing.

The freed girls, aged three and five, have been taken to hospital in Saudi Arabia where they are being given a medical check up.

The girls were in relatively good health and would return home on Wednesday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told news agency Reuters.

They were kidnapped while on a picnic in the northern region of Saada in June last year.

At the time the government was fighting a group of rebels known as the Houthis in the area, but the Houthis denied taking the group hostage.

The Yemeni government has also said that the kidnappers may have links to al-Qaeda, who are known to operate in some regions of the country.

More than 200 foreign nationals have been kidnapped in Yemen in the last 15 years. Most have been released unharmed.

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