Armed tribesmen briefly held two Indian employees of the international Red Cross on Wednesday in south Yemen, where two kidnapped Egyptians remained in captivity, the organisation and local sources told AFP.
“The Indians were released after we intervened and forced their captors to free them,” said Hussein al-Wuhayshi, a member of a pro-government militia controlling the Abyan province town of Jaar where the pair were seized.
Wuhayshi said the pair were “now on their way to Aden,” Yemen’s main southern city, after their ordeal which lasted more than three hours.
Another member of the militia earlier told AFP that “gunmen intercepted two Indian Red Cross workers in Jaar and led them at gunpoint to a mountainous region.”
The local militias belong to the Popular Resistance Committees, which backed the army in chasing Al-Qaeda militants out of Abyan last year.
Dibeh Fakhr, Middle East spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), contacted by telephone in Geneva, confirmed the kidnapping and said negotiations were held to secure their release.
The ICRC employees were “on a humanitarian mission in Jaar, said a local source.
The kidnappers belong to the Marakisha tribe whose gunmen snatched two Egyptian technicians working at a cement factory in Abyan on Monday, local sources said. The Egyptians have not yet been released.
A local official has said the tribesmen were demanding the release of a member of their tribe jailed seven years ago on murder charges.
Hundreds of people have been abducted in Yemen over the past 15 years, almost all of who have been freed unharmed.
Most kidnappings of foreigners are carried out by members of Yemen’s powerful tribes who use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the central government.