‘Help Me!,’ Begs Swede Kidnapped in Yemen
A 68-year-old Swedish technician kidnapped by Yemeni tribesmen almost two weeks ago begged his wife and employer to help secure his release, in letters published in a Swedish newspaper on Friday.
Anders Salenius, who was working on the construction of an electricity plant north of Sanaa when he was seized on November 12, said he was in bad health and suffering from the uncertainty of his situation.
"Help me out! Even deeper in this mess," he wrote in the two letters published in Expressen.
The newspaper, in collaboration with the Yemen Observer newspaper, said it hired a person who, through tribe contacts, was able to arrange a visit with Salenius in captivity.
The papers' contact, Mohammad Al al-Geri, was given the two letters to fax and was allowed to tape record an interview with Salenius, excerpts of which were published in Expressen.
Asked about his health, Salenius said: "Not so good. I turn 69 on December 4 and have diabetes and my body is in bad shape. These people are helping me get medicine, but the food is not the best for a person in my condition."
Calling the situation "very, very stressful", Salenius said he was swinging between pessimism and optimism after his captors' repeated promises of a speedy release.
"They say 'tomorrow, tomorrow', and then they say 'sorry, not today," he said.
"This is very difficult for an old man. A younger person could withstand it," he said, adding that his captors were nonetheless treating him "very well in relation to the resources they have."
Mohammad Al al-Geri said Salenius was being held in a remote mountainous area of eastern Yemen, but that he was being moved to a new hideout every day.
On Thursday, Yemeni Interior Minister Hussein Arab said that the Swede would be freed "within the next 24 hours."
But as of Friday, neither the Swedish foreign ministry nor Salenius' employer Sweco had anything new to report.
Salenius' kidnappers are reportedly demanding that the Yemeni government return a plot of land in the southern port city of Aden that they say was confiscated from the leader of the tribe, Yahia al-Zaidi.
More than 200 foreigners, mostly Western nationals, have been abducted by Yemen's unruly tribes since the early 1990s. They are used as bargaining chips in disputes with the Sanaa government or with foreign oil companies.
Almost all hostage-takings have been resolved without bloodshed through mediation between the authorities and tribes, and the kidnap victims are generally well-treated -- STOCKHOLM (AFP)
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