Last updated: 2 August, 2012

Yemeni abductor frees Italian embassy guard

An Italian embassy security agent kidnapped in Yemen over the weekend was freed Thursday in the province of Mareb east of the capital Sanaa, a tribal source and a local official said.

Alessandro Spadotto was released following “tribal mediation” and handed over to local authorities, the source told AFP. He will be driven to the Yemeni capital on Friday morning.

The tribal mediation was backed by the governor of the province, the source said. A local official confirmed the release to AFP.

The interior ministry had said the kidnapper from the Al-Jalal tribe seized the 29-year-old in Sanaa to press the authorities to drop charges against him in “cases of murder and banditry” and offer him compensation.

Marebpress, an Internet site close to Yemeni tribes, had said the abductor Ali Naser Huraidkan also wanted the authorities lift a travel ban against him.

“We want the state to respond and cancel a circular banning me from travel,” he was quoted as saying.

According to Italy’s La Stampa newspaper, Spadotto managed to contact a member of his family by mobile text message following his abduction on Sunday.

Italian news agency ANSA had cited officials as saying that he was a member of Italy’s Carabinieri military police. It also said he was picked up while in civilian clothes in a shop near the embassy.

Foreigners are frequently kidnapped in Yemen by armed tribesmen, who use them as bargaining chips with the authorities.

More than 200 people have been abducted in Yemen over the past 15 years. The majority have been freed alive and well.

A French staffer with the International Committee of the Red Cross who was kidnapped in April in the northern port city of Hudaida was released last month unharmed.

But a Swiss woman and a Saudi diplomat kidnapped by Al-Qaeda militants in March remain hostages.