Agence France Presse
Published — Friday 4 January 2013
Last update 4 January 2013 12:48 am
SANAA: Tribal grievances, not Al-Qaeda inspired militancy, are behind the abduction of two Finns and an Austrian in Yemen nearly two weeks ago, security and tribal sources said yesterday.
“It has been confirmed that the hostages were kidnapped by tribesmen and are in the region of Khawlan,” a mountainous area 80 km southeast of Sanaa, a security official said.
“The kidnappers are demanding compensation for land that was seized in Sanaa,” said the official, without giving further details.
The three hostages — an Austrian man, and a Finnish man and woman — were abducted when they were preparing to travel to the southern port of Aden via second city Taez.
The two men were learning Arabic in Sanaa. The woman had recently arrived on a visit.
A tribal source confirmed that the trio were being held in Khawlan by members of the Bani Dhebian tribe.
A Finnish envoy, who has been in Yemen since the kidnapping, met on Monday with Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindawa who assured him that the government “will do all it can to ensure the safety and release” of the hostages, the official Saba news agency reported.
But most kidnappings of foreigners are carried out by members of the country’s powerful tribes who use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the central government.
Hundreds of people have been abducted in Yemen over the past 15 years. Almost all have been freed unharmed. Al-Qaeda has a major presence in the south and east of Yemen but rarely carries out kidnappings. A Saudi diplomat remains in the hands of the jihadist network since his abduction in Aden on March 28.