Kidnapped German man freed in Yemen - tribal sources

by Reuters
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 18:49 GMT

(Adds confirmation from German government)

SANAA, May 13 (Reuters) - Yemeni tribesmen have freed a German man they kidnapped in February to press the government to free jailed relatives, tribal sources and the German government said on Tuesday.

At the time, the tribesmen telephoned journalists to say they kidnapped the man from the capital Sanaa and took him to Maarib, a tribal stronghold in the centre of Yemen.

"The governor of al-Jawf (near Maarib province) led the mediation. He promised that their relatives would be freed and was handed over the hostage," one of the tribal sources said.

The German Foreign Ministry confirmed the news of his release, saying he was in the hands of German Embassy officials in Sanaa.

"He is fine, in the circumstances," said a ministry spokeswoman, adding the German government was relieved.

Kidnapping is common in U.S.-allied Yemen, where the government is struggling with an array of security problems - an insurgency by Islamists linked to al Qaeda, a southern separatist movement, fighting in the north and sporadic conflicts with armed tribes.

The impoverished country is in the midst of a concerted army campaign to dislodge al Qaeda militants from their strongholds.

Hostage-taking is sometimes carried out by militants specifically targeting Westerners, but is also used as a tactic by tribesmen to resolve disputes with the government, and by opportunists hoping to sell hostages on to other groups. (Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari and Stephen Brown in Berlin; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Janet Lawrence)

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