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13 individuals caught, accused of abducting foreigners and Yemeni businessmen.

SANA'A, April 7--Thirteen suspects accused of being involved in the kidnapping of foreigners and Yemenis have been arrested in the last month, according to a statement on the website of the Interior Ministry.

The majority of the individuals are from Marib governorate, according the ministry.

Many of the arrests occurred following the March 25 kidnapping of an Italian national employed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The man was released by security forces in Marib hours after being kidnapped in the capital, Sana'a.

"Security officials investigated those involved as well as previous crimes the individuals may have been involved in," according to the ministry.

The 13 are accused of kidnapping both foreigners and Yemenis.

"Some of those accused of kidnappings turned themselves in," said Ali Al-Ghalisi, the press secretary of Marib governorate.

Al-Ghalisi said that negotiating with kidnappers ultimately leads to more kidnappings.

"It has encouraged some tribes to take up kidnappings as a profession," he said. A German national who was kidnapped on Jan. 31 was, according to Al-Ghalisi, taken to the Abeeda valley of Marib. The government, he says, knows his location but cannot free him because it does not have much control in the governorate.

In addition to money, those keeping the German national hostage are demanding the release of relatives from prison, Al-Ghalisi said.

"Armed groups often station themselves in remote areas that security forces cannot reach. The government resorts to tribal mediations to release those who have been abducted." Kidnappings have been a reality in Yemen for decades, but following the 2011 youth uprising and the stepping down of former President Ali Abdulla Saleh, the security vacuum has meant an increase in abductions.

The frequency of abductions is not the only factor that has changed in the past years. Increasingly, Al-Qaeda affiliated groups are using kidnapped foreigners and wealthy Yemenis as a cash-cow to raise funds for their operations--a departure from the customary practice of using foreigners as a bargaining chip with the government.

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Publication:Yemen Times (Sana'a, Yemen)
Geographic Code:7YEME
Date:Apr 10, 2014
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