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Two Japanese tourists kidnapped in Yemen

Latest update : 2008-05-07

A double kidnapping took place in the Yemeni town of Marib on Wednesday. The victims are believed to be Japanese women. The kidnappers want a member of their tribe released from jail.

SANAA - Yemeni tribesmen kidnapped two Japanese women tourists at the historic site of Marib on Wednesday to press Sanaa to free a relative, a provincial government official said.

"The kidnappers want a jailed member of their tribe to be released," the official, who declined to be identified, said. Security forces were surrounding the area where the kidnappers took the hostages, he added.

The two women were part of a group of five tourists sightseeing near the ancient Marib Dam, a major tourist attraction.

"They took them in their vehicle and kicked away their Yemeni driver," he said.

Scores of holidaymakers and foreigners working in Yemen have been kidnapped over the past decade by tribesmen demanding better schools, roads and services, or the release of prisoners.

Most have been released 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 from Islamic militants who had seized 16 tourists.

A Yemeni tribe abducted two foreign engineers and their Yemeni driver last year after a dispute between a local contractor and the hostages' employer.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has vowed to crack down on abduction of foreigners which, along with attacks by Islamist militants, have been hindering the poor Arab state's efforts to boost tourism.

Date created : 2008-05-07

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