x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Search goes on for six remaining hostages

Political leaders denounce the murder of three of the nine foreign aid workers kidnapped last Friday as their bodies are flown back to Sana'a.

The  body of one of three foreigners killed by kidnappers is unloaded from a military helicopter in Sana'a, Yemen, yesterday.
The body of one of three foreigners killed by kidnappers is unloaded from a military helicopter in Sana'a, Yemen, yesterday.

SANA'A // While the fate of six foreign hostages is still unknown, the corpses of three found in the northern province of Sa'ada arrived yesterday in the Yemeni capital Sana'a. The bodies of two Germans and a South Korean were carried by a military helicopter and accompanied by civil and military Yemeni officials. They were taken to the military hospital in Sana'a and from there they will be flown to their home countries. The victims were identified as German nurses Rita Stewjab, 25, and Amita Julie, 25, and Korean teacher Youvet Singhum, 22. "The information we have now is the bodies that were found are only three. We have no other information on any other dead bodies," Ghazi Ahmed Ismail, deputy health and population minister, said yesterday. The German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said the government has to assume that two of the bodies are those of German women who were kidnapped. "We unfortunately have to assume that two German women who had been missing are among the dead," he said in Berlin, according to Agence France-Presse. Mr Steinmeier said German forensics experts had been sent to Yemen to examine the bodies and determine cause of death. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters yesterday: "Naturally we condemn this act in the strongest possible terms." The Brake bible school in Lemgo, Germany, said the two women were third-year students who had been doing work experience in Sa'ada since the start of June. South Korea yesterday confirmed that one of its citizens had been murdered. "The government expresses anger and shock over the confirmed killing of our citizen ... and seriously condemns this," the foreign ministry said. Seoul urged its citizens to leave the country after that attack. Nine foreigners, including seven German nationals, a British engineer and Singhum, belonging to an international relief group who had been working at Al Jumhuri hospital in Sa'ada, disappeared on Friday. On Monday, authorities found three of their bodies dumped in Nushoor valley east of Sa'ada city. The state-run Saba news agency reported yesterday that security forces were conducting an intensive search for the rest of the hostages. "We have announced a reward of five million rials (Dh91,481) to anyone who will provide information that would lead to the hideout of the kidnappers and the rest of the hostages," Hasan Mohammed Mana'a, governor of Sa'ada, was quoted as saying. Saba also said that Abubakr al Qirbi, foreign minister, called his German counterpart to offer his condolences for the murder of the two German nurses. Officials have accused rebels tied to the al Houthi movement in Sa'ada, who have been fighting against the government since 2004, of the murders. The rebel leader, Abdulmalik al Houthi, has denied his group's involvement and called for a protest today. "We have called all the citizens of Sa'ada to take part in a massive demonstration to denounce such a crime, which we strongly condemn. "We expect tens of thousands to participate in this protest where people will get together and some speeches will be delivered to express the stand of these people to this incident," Mr al Houthi's spokesman, Mohammed Abdulsalam, said. He said he did not know whether their leader will attend the demonstration. Yemen's political parties joined in the condemnations with the ruling People's General Congress saying in a statement that "there must be no leniency with perpetrators of this terrorist crime". The Joint Meeting Parties, a coalition of five opposition parties, called the killing of the three foreigners a "heinous crime [that] offends Yemen and Yemenis and is against all religious and humanitarian values" and "endangers the peace and stability of the country". malqadhi@thenational.ae * With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse