Iraq: French hostage taken last month found alive

A French engineer taken hostage in Iraq last month has been found alive, Iraqi police said Sunday. The engineer was found in a car that several men had fled from just before reaching a checkpoint in the western Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib Saturday night, said Maj. Falah al-Mohammadawi. Bernard Planche, who worked for a non-governmental organization called AACCESS, was kidnapped December 5 on his way to work at a Baghdad water plant. Militants last month released a video of him sitting between two armed men. Insurgents have kidnapped hundreds of foreigners in the past two years, aiming to force US-led troops to leave Iraq or prevent Arab nations from strengthening their ties with the Baghdad government. Some of the hostages were killed, while others were released after ransoms were paid or freed after Muslim clerics called the armed groups to release them.