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Tribesmen Kidnap Three Germans in Yemen

Armed tribesmen have reportedly kidnapped three Germans in western Yemen. They've demanded the release of relatives detained by police.

Sana'a, the capital of Yemen

Over 200 foreigners have been kidnapped in Yemen since 2001

Armed men from the al-Kumaim clan of the powerful Bani Dhabian tribe abducted the three in the historic city of Rada'a, some 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Sana'a, an official said Monday, Dec. 15.

The official, who asked not to be named, told DPA news agency that the hostages were a female staffer of the German Technical Cooperation GTZ and her parents who were spending a vacation with her in Yemen.

Police forces closed off a mountainous area, where the hostages are believed to be held as tribal elders began contacts with the kidnappers to secure the hostage's release, a security source said.

The source said the kidnappers demanded the release of three fellow clansmen from police custody. The men were detained two months ago on the ground of a land dispute, he said.

A source at the German embassy said the embassy was in contact with dignitaries involved in the negotiations with the abductors.

Kidnappings not uncommon

Disgruntled tribesmen from impoverished areas of the Arab country often take hostages to use as bargaining chips to press the government for aid, jobs or the release of detained fellow clansmen.

More than 200 foreigners have been kidnapped in Yemen since 1991. Almost all were released unharmed after mediation involving tribal leaders.

The latest abduction took place on Sept. 19 when armed tribesmen took two Colombian engineers hostage for three days in southern Yemen and demanded the release of a fellow clansman detained by police in connection with criminal offences.

On Aug. 12, tribesmen abducted a French engineer of Algerian origin and held him hostage for one day.

A group of armed tribesmen abducted two Japanese female tourists in May and held them for several hours in the north-central city of Marib.

In 1998, an Islamic militant group kidnapped 16 Western tourists, four of whom died in a botched rescue attempt by police forces, and in 2000, a Norwegian diplomat was killed in a similar rescue attempt.

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