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08 December 2023

Abducted aid workers to be freed in Yemen-kidnapper

By Reuters

Six foreign aid workers kidnapped by Yemen tribesmen from a tourist area west of Sanaa will be released on Thursday, one of their kidnappers said.

"The exchange will take place tomorrow (Thursday) morning," the kidnapper told Reuters on Wednesday.

He said tribemen abducted the six workers to press the government to release one of their men held by authorities on suspicion of shooting at pro-democracy protesters.

"We will hand them the six hostages and receive the prisoner," the kidnapper said. "The prisoner has been handed over to the mediators but we still have the aid workers."

Yemeni state news agency Saba said those abducted on Tuesday were a German, a Colombian, an Iraqi, a Palestinian and two Yemenis.

Saleh Samei, a government minister, told Reuters the deal was reach after mediation efforts led by tribal elders.

A UN source said the six worked for its Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The incident highlights the multiple security problems in Yemen that have alarmed regional power Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Protests have continued since President Ali Abdullah Saleh transferred his powers and activists are pressing demands that Saleh, who is in the United States for medical care, be tried for alleged killings of protesters, and the government be purged of his relatives.

Yemen is grappling with threats from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula which controls several cities in the south, as well as a growing secessionist sentiment in the south and Shi'ite rebels in the north, close to the borders of Saudi Arabia.