German hostages freed in Iraq

Two Germans held hostage in Iraq since late January have been freed.

Two Germans held hostage in Iraq since late January have been freed.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says he has spoken to the hostages and they're doing relatively well under the circumstances.

"Thomas Nitzschke and Rene Braeunlich, who had been held hostages for more than 13 weeks in Iraq, were freed moments ago," Steinmeier told reporters during a visit to Santiago, Chile.

"We're very pleased about that. The 13 weeks were distressing weeks for both of them which we, outsiders who felt for them, could only imagine ... One minute ago I talked to Thomas Nitzschke and Rene Braeunlich on the phone and told them how happy we are that the time of freedom finally arrived."

The two men were kidnapped by a group that called itself Brigade of Supporters of the Sunna and Tawid on Jan. 24 as they were driving to work in northern Iraq. They both worked for a German company.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "relieved and pleased" that the hostages were freed.

"Everything necessary will now be done for them to bring them safely to Germany," said Merkel.

The men are expected to return to Germany on Wednesday.

with files from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation