SANAA (Reuters) – Two Americans held captive in Yemen were freed and flown to Muscat in neighboring Oman on Saturday night after Omani officials mediated their release, Omani state media reported.
Oman state television broadcast footage of the two Americans disembarking from a plane belonging to the Royal Air Force of Oman. Yemenis wounded in the civil war there were also flown over for treatment in Oman aboard the same plane, it reported.
Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed the release, according to the Associated Press.
A Foreign Ministry official told the broadcaster Oman had worked with Yemeni authorities in Sanaa to secure the Americans’ release. A Houthi official confirmed their departure from Sanaa.
The U.S. State Department expressed gratitude to the Omani government for facilitating the release and recognized the action as a “humanitarian gesture” by the Houthis, the northern Yemeni armed group that seized control of the capital Sanaa in 2014.
“We welcome reports that two U.S. citizens who had been detained in Yemen were released and have arrived safely in Oman,” the department said in a statement.
“We recognize the humanitarian gesture by the Houthis in releasing these U.S. citizens. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of any other U.S. citizens who may still be held.”
(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari, Omar Fahmy, Katie Paul and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Kevin Liffey)