Aid workers kidnapped at the hands of armed Yemen tribesmen have been released un-harmed after being used as a bargaining tool with local authorities to have a prison inmate released.
Four international aid workers and two Yemenis kidnapped at gunpoint north of the Yemeni capital Sanaa have been released, officials said Wednesday.
Yemen's electricity minister Saleh Sumai confirmed the Columbian, German, Iraqi and Palestinian workers and their two local drivers were freed in Wadi Ahjar, 50 kilometers (30 miles) northwest of Sanaa, the same area from where they were taken hostage from on Tuesday. The Iraqi and the Palestinian hostages were women.
Armed tribesmen took the UN representatives hostage as they were returning to Sanaa from a refugee camp. The abductors were calling for the release of Ali Ghanem al-Zubairi who is being held at the central prison in Sanaa on criminal charges.
Tribal officials involved in the hostage negotiations said al-Zubairi's release was "unlikely because he was convicted of murder."
Powerful tribal groups in the country often kidnap foreigners to use as bargaining tools with local and international authorities.
Over 200 foreigners have been taken hostage in the past 15 years. Almost all were freed unharmed.
jw/acb (AFP, AP)