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No new talks with Korkie kidnappers: NGO

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IOL  Pierre Korkie1

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Pierre Korkie, who was kidnapped by Al-Qaeda in Yemen over seven months ago.

Bloemfontein - No new talks have taken place with the Yemeni kidnappers of a South African man, disaster relief organisation The Gift of the Givers Foundation said on Monday.

Foundation head Imtiaz Sooliman said it seemed negotiations were off for now after Saturday’s meeting.

The Al-Qaeda militants holding Pierre Korkie had threatened to execute him on Friday if they were not given US3 million (about R32.5m) in exchange for his safe return.

After an initial silence, the kidnappers made contact, indicating that Korkie was still alive on Saturday.

A three-week extension was also given to raise the ransom.

Sooliman said the militants also informed the foundation on Saturday that Korkie was not in good health.

“This is worrying,” he said. “In the 11 days before then, they said nothing about his health.”

Korkie and his wife Yolande were kidnapped in the city of Taiz in Yemen in May.

After extensive negotiations, Yolande Korkie was released without a ransom and returned to the country last week.

At a news conference in Johannesburg last week, Yolande begged Al-Qaeda to release her husband.

“Al-Qaeda, I ask to address you. Thank you for releasing me and giving me back to our children, treating us with kindness and respect, and bringing my husband medicine... I'm asking you to release my husband,” she said.

“We are asking you to show mercy, to please show tolerance.”

The couple have been married for 20 years.

At the time of the kidnapping, Korkie was a teacher in Yemen, while his wife did relief work in hospitals.

South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations Ebrahim Ebrahim arrived in Yemen on Sunday morning.

Departmental spokesman Nelson Kgwete said Ebrahim would discuss Korkie's kidnapping with the Yemeni government and interested parties.

The department said it would not be involved in the ransom talks.

“We are involved in efforts to free him through diplomatic channels,” said Kgwete.

Sapa


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