A Swedish technician held hostage in Yemen for 10 days, Anders Salenius, has been moved by his tribal kidnappers to a new hide-out in Maareb province, east of Sanaa, a tribal source said Tuesday.
The move was made to ensure the safety of the hostage and increase the chances of the success of the mediation undertaken by tribal leaders, notably those of the Khalwan tribal confederation, the source said.
Salenius, a 69-year-old diabetic, was working on the construction of an electricity plant north of Sanaa financed by the World Bank when he was seized on November 12.
The Swede was kidnapped by members of the Zaidi tribe who 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.
Sweden's ambassador to Libya, Bengt Sparre, held talks Monday with Yemen's Interior Minister Hussein Arab, who assured him of Salenius' "good state of health" and the "determination of the authorities to free him peacefully", an official Yemeni source said.
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)
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