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Abu Nidal Group to Free 2 French Girls

December 30, 1987|From Times Wire Services

BEIRUT — A Palestinian faction that kidnaped eight Europeans from a pleasure boat last month announced Tuesday that it will soon release two French girls who have been held hostage with their mother and five Belgians.

Abu Nidal's Revolutionary Council of Fatah said Marie-Laure, 6, and Virginie, 5, will be "transported to France and handed over to their father, Pascal Betille, as soon as possible."

A photograph of the children was attached to the typewritten statement, delivered to a Western news agency in Beirut. The girls' identities were confirmed by their father, a French waiter, who was awarded custody of the children after their parents separated in 1982.

Last week, Jacqueline Valente, the girls' mother, reportedly gave birth prematurely to a baby girl.

Also being held are three Belgian adults and two children. The kidnapers claim that the adults are agents of the Israeli government, but French and Belgian authorities have said the captives had no such known ties.

The Abu Nidal group staged bloody attacks at the Rome and Vienna airports in 1985, in which 20 people, including five Americans, were killed and 121 were wounded.

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