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Germany

Germany in Brief

Kidnapped Germans and Dane freed in Georgia; heavy wind and rains killed at least a dozen people over the weekend; Australian Michael Rogers wins Tour of Germany cycle race and more.

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Heavy wind and rain wreak havoc across Germany

Kidnapped German, Danish U.N. workers in Georgia released

Three United Nations military observers who were taken hostage in the Caucasus last week have been set free, German Defense Minister Peter Struck confirmed in Berlin on Monday. The kidnappers reportedly demanded $1.5 million to release the two Germans, one Dane and their Georgian translator. The observers were part of a U.N. monitoring team sent to watch over a truce between Georgia and Abkhazia, which proclaimed itself a separate state in 1993 following the break-up of the Soviet Union. Emzar Kvitsiani, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze’s envoy in the region, had been negotiating the hostages release since they were captured on Thursday.

12 killed in Storms

At least 12 people were killed and numerous injured in Germany during heavy storms over the weekend. Strong rains flooded streets and cellars and caused car accidents. In Berlin, the street party Carnival of the Cultures had to be broken off. Three people there were badly injured by falling scaffolding. A five-year-old girl was killed in Mönchengladbach after the hot air balloon she was sitting in was swept away by the wind. The balloon travelled 70 kilometers (43 miles) before crashing to the ground.

Bomb found in Dresden's main train station

Train employees discovered a bomb in Dresden's main train station on Friday night. Dresden police said on Sunday the explosives could have killed or injured many people if it had detonated. The bomb was hidden in a suitcase that had been abandoned on a platform where trains headed for Frankfurt am Main, Leipzig and Dresden Airport stop. No one had so far claimed responsibility for the bomb, nor had there been any threats, state authorities said on Monday. The station was shut down until Saturday morning.

Michael Rogers wins Tour of Germany cycling race

Michael Rogers won this year's Tour of Germany on Sunday. The 23-year-old Australian was 1:19 minutes ahead of José Azevedo from Portugal and 1:52 minutes in front of the Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov from Team Telekom. The German Jörg Jaksche came in fourth, followed by Bianchi team captain Jan Ullrich, more than two seconds behind Rogers. Olympic medallist Olaf Pollack from Kolkwitz won the final leg of the Tour, the 173.2 km stretch between Bad Dürkheim and Saarbrücken. The annual cycling race started on June 3 and covered 1,175 kilometers across six German states.

Compiled with material from wire services.