x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Japanese man kidnapped by tribesmen in Yemen

A man working for a Japanese development agency in Yemen was taken hostage on Sunday along with his Yemeni driver, a diplomatic source said

SANA'A // A Japanese man was kidnapped on Sunday by armed tribesmen in Arhab, 45km north-east of the capital, Sana'a, a diplomatic source said yesterday. "A Japanese citizen working for a Japanese development agency in Yemen was kidnapped on Sunday along with his Yemeni driver," said the diplomat, who requested anonymity. He said the man was on his way to the Arhab district to supervise the construction of a school building.

"The hostage has been working in Yemen for almost a year and his job is to supervise Japanese-funded projects," the diplomat said, refusing to disclose the name of the hostage, whom he said has not been harmed. He said the tribesmen from the Bait al Gob tribe wanted to pressure the government to release one of their relatives."The Yemeni government is negotiating with the kidnappers," the source added.

More than 220 abductions were reported countrywide between 1993 and 2009, according to Yemeni government figures. Nine foreign aid workers were kidnapped in June in the northern province of Sa'ada. Three were killed while the fate of the rest is still unclear. Two Japanese tourists were abducted in May 2008 by tribesmen in Mareb province, but they were released unharmed one day later. Most hostages have been freed unharmed, but in 2000 a Norwegian diplomat was killed in crossfire, and in 1998 four westerners were killed during a botched army attempt to free them.