French nationals freed in Haiti

The three, including an 85-year-old nun, were seized by an armed gang as they drove from Port-au-Prince airport.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 16:23 IST

Three French nationals abducted in Haiti this week were set free by their kidnappers, and were safe and sound, police said.

"The French nationals and their Haitian driver were freed separately apparently without any ransom being paid," police director Michael Lucius said late on Friday.

The three, including an 85-year-old nun identified as Sister Agnes, were seized by an armed gang as they drove from Port-au-Prince airport into the capital on Wednesday in an incident that highlighted security problems ahead of the country's landmark elections next month.

The nun was released late in the afternoon and the other three people some hours later, the police director said.

The French nationals were handed over to their embassy and would spend the night at the ambassador's residence before returning to France, a French diplomatic source said.

Police sources earlier had said the kidnappers had lowered a demand for a 150,000-dollar ransom, as is often the case in the abductions that have become almost daily in Port-au-Prince.

Haiti is to stage the first round of a presidential election on February 7, and lawlessness has been one of the major fears around preparations for the first vote since Jean Bertrand Aristide fled as president in February 2004.

A 7,500-strong UN peacekeeping force has struggled to impose order and has been criticised for the tactics it has used.

The UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) will conduct a large-scale voting simulation exercise tomorrow to test its readiness for the elections, which have been delayed four times.

First Published: Jan 28, 2006 14:49 IST