Yemen Police Arrest Tribesmen in German Hostage Taking | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 16.12.2008
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Yemen Police Arrest Tribesmen in German Hostage Taking

Police in Yemen said they identified the abductors holding three Germans hostages; the gunmen are demanding the release from jail of fellow tribesmen.

Women talking in the old town of Sana'a

The Germans were touring a remote area east of the capital Sana'a, shown here

Yemeni authorities have arrested a number of tribesmen whose kin are holding three Germans hostage, police said Tuesday, Dec. 16.

The abductors are holding three Germans hostage in a remote area east of the capital, Sana'a. Security forces have closed in on their hideout, police said.

Five tribesmen led by Abdu-Rabu Saleh al-Tam were holding the hostages in a house in the mountain village of Naba'ah in the Khawlan district, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Sana'a.

Prisoner release demanded

"Security forces cordoned off the house and closed all roads leading to the village," an Interior Ministry official told DPA news agency.

"This is intended to prevent the kidnappers from changing their hideout or moving the hostages to another area," the official said.

He said the kidnappers demanded the release of al-Tam's son and brother who have been jailed at the central prison in Sana'a for abducting five Yemeni engineers and holding them hostage for six months last year.

Al-Tam also demanded authorities pay him 40 million riyals ($200,000 or 147,000 euros) in compensation for a property in Sana'a, the ownership of which he disputed with an influential businessman, the official said.

Map of Yemen

The kidnapped trio is in Dhamar Province

The kidnappers, who belong to the powerful Bani Dhabian tribe, abducted the three on Monday, Dec. 15 as they drove their car outside the historic city of Rada'a, about 130 kilometers south of Sana'a.

Tribal sources said five men armed with AK-47 rifles snatched the three Germans from their car as they left Rada'a on the way to Sana'a.

A source at the German embassy in Sana'a said the embassy had received assurances from authorities that no force would be used to free the hostages.

A German Foreign Ministry spokesman said German officials were in contact with Yemeni authorities. He declined to give further details.

Kidnapping for living condititions

The embassy official said the hostages, an employee of the German Technical Cooperation agency GTZ and her parents, were in good health and had not been harmed.

The London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat also said it had contacted one of the hostages who said she and the others had not been injured.

Police arrested dozens of tribesmen from the Bani Dhabian tribe late Monday to put pressure on the kidnappers to free the hostages, tribal sources told DPA.

A security official said Monday that tribal elders had begun contacts with the kidnappers to secure the hostages' release.

The Bani Dhabian tribe is known for kidnapping foreigners to press the government for better living conditions.

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.

In December 2005, a former German government minister, his wife and three sons were kidnapped by tribesmen in south-eastern Yemen and released unharmed a few days later.

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