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Bosnian Serbs Free French Aid Workers for $44,000 ‘Bail’ With AM-Yugoslavia

May 18, 1994

PARIS (AP) _ Bosnian Serb militiamen freed 11 French aid workers Wednesday after their humanitarian group paid $44,000 in ″bail″ to win their release from nearly six weeks in captivity.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told the National Assembly that the employees of the aid group Premiere Urgence were due in Paris late Wednesday.

France’s ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Henri Jacolin, reported that the 10 men and one woman were in good condition. ″They were very happy, and I am very happy for them,″ he told The Associated Press.

They had been held in Lukavica, a Serb-held district outside Sarajevo, since April 8. Serb leaders charged the aid workers were trying to smuggle arms to troops of Bosnia’s Muslim-led government and threatened to put them on trial.

The French government had demanded the unconditional release of the captives. But Premiere Urgence decided to pay the $44,000 demanded by the Bosnian Serbs as ″bail,″ spokeswoman Pascale de Lomas said.

She said the amount appeared too little to qualify as ransom and apparently was simply a way for the captors ″to save face.″

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