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YEMEN - Dec 23 - Yemen Launches Mediation To Free Austrian Hostages.

Yemeni tribal elders launch a new mediation effort to free two Austrian tourists taken hostage by armed tribesmen in the country's northeast two days ago. They said local authorities asked prominent leaders of the main tribal groupings of Maarib, about 195km north-east of the capital Sanaa, to intervene and secure the release of the two hostages. Maarib Governor Abdullah Al-Nassi "ordered leading tribal chieftains today to accompany security officials to the Al-Hatik area" where the hostages are believed to be held. The two Austrians, a man and a woman believed to be a married couple, were kidnapped by armed men from the Al-Jaradin clan. The pair were forced at gunpoint to step out of their jeep while driving in a desert area near Al-Hatik town, some 15kms east of the provincial city of Maarib. Initial efforts by tribal leaders to make a deal with the kidnappers failed and security officials were being sent to the area for negotiations, local officials said Dec 22. Tribal sources said local police arrested several tribesmen suspected to have connections with the kidnappers. Police said the kidnappers demanded the release of three clansmen detained by police in Sanaa. They were arrested two months ago at Sanaa Airport after arriving from Syria and were suspected of having fought alongside insurgents in Iraq. This is the third kidnap of Westerners in Yemen this year. On Nov. 21, tribesmen from the Abida tribe, seeking the release of a jailed relative, kidnapped a Swiss couple and released them later in the day after the intervention by tribal leaders. Armed tribesmen also seeking the release of an imprisoned fellow clansman kidnapped three Spanish tourists and held them for nearly 12 hours on Aug 8 in the south-eastern province of Shabwa.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7YEME
Date:Dec 24, 2005
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