Two Japanese women tourists kidnapped in YemenMay 8th, 2008 - 12:14 am ICT by admin
Sanaa, May 7 (DPA) Two Japanese women tourists were kidnapped by some unidentified armed men in the north-central Yemeni city of Marib Wednesday, security sources said. The sources said the two were touring the site of the historical dam of Marib when a group of armed men abducted them and fled the site. They said the kidnappers were believed to be tribesmen.
Witnesses said policemen guarding the site pursued the abductors and clashed with them. One policeman was injured.
According to an eyewitness, the abducted women were part of five Japanese tourists visiting the site.
“They forced them into the vehicle at gun point the drove away,” he said.
Police officials said security forces were deployed in a search-and-rescue operation in several areas of Marib, some 190 km northeast of the capital Sanaa.
Armed tribesmen from impoverished areas of this Arab Peninsula country often take hostages and use them as bargaining chips with the government to press for aid, jobs or the release of detained fellow clansmen.
The most recent kidnapping took place in September 2006, when two armed men from the Al-Abdullah clan held four French tourists hostage for two weeks in the south-eastern province of Shabwa.
Two of the kidnappers were sentenced to 12 years in prison by a state security court in Sanaa in May 2007.
In January 2006, tribesmen abducted five Italian tourists, including three women, and held them hostage for five days in a mountainous village in Marib. A state security court sentenced six of the kidnappers to jail terms from five to 20 years in March the same year.
The kidnapping of the Italians took place one day after the release a German diplomat, his wife and three sons by tribesmen who took them hostage for several days in the Shabwa province.
In 1998, an Islamic militant group kidnapped 16 Western tourists, four of whom died in a botched rescue attempt by police forces, and in 2000 a Norwegian diplomat was killed in a similar rescue attempt.
More than 200 foreigners have been kidnapped since 1991 in Yemen, almost all released unharmed following mediation involving tribal leaders.