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Japanese women hostages freed in Yemen

Latest update : 2008-05-08

Yemeni tribesmen have released two Japanese women, a day after they were kidnapped while on their way to the tourist site of the ancient Marib Dam, according to Japan's foreign ministry.

Japan's foreign ministry Thursday confirmed two Japanese women taken hostage by Yemeni tribesmen have been freed unharmed.
The Japanese embassy received notice from Yemeni authorities that the women -- kidnapped hours earlier while on their way to a tourist site in the region of Marib -- were now safe, the ministry said in a statement.
The confirmation came soon after Sheikh Mohammed Hassan bin Muaili, head of the Muaili tribe, to which the kidnappers belonged, said they had been freed.
The two women were seized as they travelled by road to the site of the ancient Marib Dam, a major tourism draw, a Yemeni official told AFP.
The Japanese ministry said an embassy official had spoken with the women by telephone to confirm their identities and safety.
"As far as the embassy official heard on the telephone, the two women are unharmed and in good health," an ministry official in Tokyo said. He declined to comment on whether there had been conditions for their release.
The Yemeni official said the kidnappers had been demanding the release by the central government of a member of the tribe, Malek bin Hassan bin Muaili, who had been detained on suspicion of involvement in an April 16 bombing which killed three policemen in Marib.
Foreigners are frequently seized by Yemen's powerful tribes for use as bargaining chips in disputes with the central government. More than 200 have been abducted over the past 15 years.

Date created : 2008-05-08