Yemen: tribesmen abduct foreign engineers

Shades of the Niger Delta in Yemen. From Reuters, Sept. 1:

ADEN – A Yemeni tribe has freed two foreign engineers and their Yemeni driver, a government source said on Saturday, after the military threatened to storm the area to secure their release.

The official Saba news agency reported earlier that the tribe had snatched the men on Friday after a dispute between a local contractor, apparently a member of the tribe, and the hostages’ employer, Technohouse Engineering and Contracting.

It said that the military was preparing to force the release of the men being held in the eastern province of Shabwa, where they were working on a contract for a gas firm.

The three were identified in the Arabic-language report as Atram Nafour Kaftar, a Canadian of Indian origin, Osama Mohammad Aslab, a Syrian, and Ammar Abdul-Karim, a Yemeni.

Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh has vowed to crack down on abductions of foreigners which, along with attacks by al Qaeda, are hindering the poor Arab state’s efforts to boost tourism.

Scores of holidaymakers and foreigners working in Yemen have been kidnapped over the past decade by tribesmen demanding better schools, roads and services, or the release of prisoners. Most have been released unharmed.

See our last post on Yemen, and our special report, “Yemen: The Next Quagmire” by Mohamed Al-Azaki.

  1. Echoes of civil war in Yemen
    From Iran Press TV, Sept. 5:

    Thousands of protesters faced off with bullets, tear gas and water cannons in their demonstrations for the release of 200 veterans in Yemen.

    Riot police clamped down on the protesters on Tuesday, most of whom are southern Yemeni veterans who lost their jobs after they were defeated by the northerners 13 years ago.

    “Any party, movement, group or individual who stages or carries slogans that put national unity in peril, or calls for destruction of national unity, will be tried as a traitor,” said Yemen’s top security body.

    According to the constitution in Yemen the penalty for treason is death.