Swede's Kidnapping in Yemen Enters Second Week

Published November 19th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A Swedish technician's kidnap ordeal entered a second week on Sunday as Yemeni authorities negotiated with his tribal hostage-takers and circled their hide-out, tribal sources and Sweden's foreign ministry said. 

The foreign ministry said the hostage, a 69-year-old with diabetes whose name was not disclosed, was being "well treated" by his kidnappers. 

The technician, an expert in diesel engines, was working on the construction of an electricity plant north of Sanaa financed by the World Bank when he was seized on November 12, according to his employers. 

Foreign ministry spokesman Lennart Larsson said Sweden was in contact with Yemeni authorities, who were negotiating with the kidnappers. "We are doing everything to make sure he is freed quickly, and safe and sound," he said. 

"We believe he has insulin" to treat his diabetes, said Larsson. 

The Swede was kidnapped by members of the Zaidi tribe and being held in the area of Al-Mahjaza, in the lawless province of Marib, east of the capital, according to a tribal source. 

He said the kidnappers were demanding that the Yemeni government return a plot of land in the southern port city of Aden to the leader of the tribe, Yahia al-Zaidi. 

Yemeni security forces on Saturday arrested members of the tribe and surrounded their hide-out, the source said, asking not to be named. 

The kidnapping is the first reported in Yemen since June, when an Italian archaeologist and four Yemenis were abducted by armed tribesmen before they were released unhurt. 

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 foreign oil companies. 

Almost all hostage-takings have been resolved without bloodshed, and the kidnap victims are generally well-treated. 

Penalties for kidnappings were stiffened in 1998, with perpetrators now risking the death penalty, especially if their victims are killed or injured. 

The head of an Islamist group, Zine el-Abidin al-Mehdar, was executed in October 1999 for the seizure of 16 western tourists in December 1998, four of whom were killed in a shoot-out with police -- SANAA (AFP)  




© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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