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Yemeni tribesmen kidnap 24 medics

Posted by FREE ADEN on June 11, 2009

SAN’A, Yemen (AP) — Yemeni tribesmen kidnapped 24 local and foreign medics working at a Saudi hospital in northern Yemen on Thursday and demanded the government release two of their colleagues.Armed tribesmen kidnapped the group, which includes male and female medics from Egypt, India, Sudan and the Philippines, as they were traveling in a bus from the capital, San’a, to northern Sada province, said Sheik Hezam, who identified himself as one of the kidnappers.

The tribesmen commandeered the bus and took it to a mountainous area in Amran province, 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of San’a, Hezam told The Associated Press. He said the hostages are safe and in good health.

Local tribal leaders and ordinary citizens confirmed the kidnapping, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of government response. Government officials refused to comment on the kidnapping, saying it was a tribal matter.

Yemeni tribes have previously seized foreigners — either tourists or those living or working in the country — to pressure the Yemeni government to meet their demands, mainly to free clan members from jail. In most cases the kidnappings are resolved and the hostages freed unharmed.

Hezam also demanded the government implement development projects in his area to improve the local economy.

Yemen, the most impoverished country in the Arabian Peninsula, is a U.S. ally in the Middle East, but it also is the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, and al-Qaeda loyalists are active in the country.


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