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Middle east

Germany 'assumes' two hostages are dead

Video by Aurore Cloe DUPUIS , Marion GAUDIN

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-06-16

Germany's Foreign Minister said on Tuesday that two hostages kidnapped in Yemen at the weekend must be assumed to be dead. Seoul confirmed that a South Korean woman was dead but uncertainty over the fate of six other foreign hostages remains.

AFP - Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Tuesday Germany "has to assume" two German women taken hostage in Yemen last week are dead.

Steinmeier said the German embassy in Sanaa had despatched a staff member to northern Yemen where three dead bodies were recovered Monday, near to the place where nine hostages abducted last week were last seen.

"We unfortunately have to assume that two German women who had been missing are among the dead," he told reporters in Berlin.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with the victims' loved ones and friends."

He said it was not clear how the women had died but that German forensics experts had been sent to Yemen to examine the bodies.

Steinmeier said he spoke with his Yemeni counterpart Abu Baker al Qirby Tuesday, who assured him Sanaa would do all in its power to ensure the hostages' safety.

The German minister offered no new information on the whereabouts of the other five Germans but said Berlin believed they were being held by a "unscrupulous violent group".

Seven Germans, including three children and two female nurses, were abducted last week in the volatile Saada province along with a male British engineer and his South Korean wife.

On Monday, the Yemeni interior ministry said at least three hostages had been killed: two Germans and a South Korean, all women. Their bodies were found in the province's Noshour region.

Earlier Tuesday, Seoul confirmed that one of its citizens has been murdered after being kidnapped in Yemen. Media reports and officials gave her name as Eom Young-Sun, 34.

The nine belong to an international relief group that has worked for 35 years at a hospital in Saada, which borders Saudi Arabia, according to Yemeni officials.

Date created : 2009-06-16

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