Freed German hostages fly home from Yemen

24th December 2008, Comments 0 comments

Architect Julia Thielebein, who has worked in Yemen for the past 10 years, and her parents were released on Friday morning after mediation by a tribal dignitary.

Sanaa -- A German couple, freed by tribal kidnappers after a five-day ordeal, flew home from the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Tuesday, an airport security official said.

"The parents of the German woman boarded the plane at dawn, on a Turkish Airways flight to Germany via Istanbul," the official told AFP.

Architect Julia Thielebein, who has worked in Yemen for the past 10 years, and her parents were released on Friday morning after mediation by a tribal dignitary.

They had been seized in the mountainous Bani Dhabyan region east of the capital on December 13 while on an excursion.

Thielebein is expected to spend the end of year holidays in Germany before returning to Yemen, where she works with the German economic development agency GTZ, a Western diplomat said earlier.

Their kidnapper had initially demanded 200,000 dollars (144,000 euros) to compensate him for lost land and the release by police of his brother and son who were arrested four months ago over the land dispute.

Unconfirmed reports on a Yemeni Internet site, Marebnews, said the tribal mediator had promised the kidnapper a ransom of 100,000 dollars and an assurance that the kidnapper would not face prosecution.

Yemen, the ancestral homeland of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and one of the world's poorest countries, is a strongly tribal country awash with weapons.

Tribes have abducted more than 200 foreigners over the past 15 years in a bid to extract concessions from the central government whose writ extends with difficulty over the lawless countryside.

Although kidnappers' demands are normally met allowing hostages to be freed unharmed, three Britons and an Australian seized by Islamists in December 1998 were killed when security forces stormed their hideout.

AFP/Expatica

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