Last updated: 14 May, 2013

Red Cross says Yemen captive staff are fine

Three International Committee of the Red Cross employees kidnapped by Yemeni tribesmen are in good health, but the demands of their captors remain unknown, an ICRC spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

But a tribal dignitary who is involved in negotiations to secure the hostages’ release told AFP later on Tuesday that the kidnappers were demanding that the trial of fellow tribesman Abdelbaset al-Markashi be moved to their hometown Jaar from the main southern city of Aden.

However, “negotiations have failed,” Abdullah al-Marakishi said.

ICRC Middle East spokeswoman Dibeh Fakhr told AFP: “Our colleagues told us that they are fine.”

She declined to confirm the names or nationalities of the three employees held in Jaar since Monday.

But local sources told AFP the three were Swiss and Kenyan ICRC staffers and their Yemeni interpreter.

Kidnappers from Al-Marakisha tribe stopped the group’s car and abducted the Swiss man, witnesses said.

A tribal source said the Kenyan and the Yemeni interpreter insisted on staying with their colleague, even though the kidnappers told them they could go.

Their Yemeni driver fled.

The trio have been taken to a mountainous area north of Jaar, the tribal source said, requesting anonymity.

Fakhr said the motives for the kidnapping remain unknown, and the ICRC has not received any demands from the captors, while “negotiations are ongoing” to secure their release.

Last week, armed men from the same tribe briefly held two Indian ICRC employees in Jaar, before pro-government militia interceded for their release.

Gunmen from the same tribe are still holding two Egyptian technicians they seized from a cement factory in Abyan province on May 6.

Hundreds of people have been abducted in Yemen over the past decade and a half, 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.