Sanaa - Yemeni tribesmen have released a German man they kidnapped in February to press the government to free jailed relatives, tribal sources and state media said on Tuesday.

At the time, the tribesmen telephoned journalists to say they kidnapped the man from the capital Sanaa and took him to Maarib, a tribal stronghold in the centre of Yemen.

“The governor of al-Jawf (near Maarib province) led the mediation. He promised that their relatives would be freed and was handed over the hostage,” one of the tribal sources told Reuters.

The state news agency Saba confirmed news of the German's release in a text message and said he was being transported to the capital, Sanaa. There was no immediate comment from the German foreign ministry.

Kidnapping is common in U.S.-allied Yemen, where the government is struggling with an array of security problems: an insurgency by Islamists linked to al Qaeda, a southern separatist movement, fighting in the country's north, and sporadic conflicts with armed tribes.

The impoverished country is in the midst of a concerted army campaign to dislodge al Qaeda militants from their strongholds.

Hostage-taking is sometimes carried out by militants specifically targeting Westerners, but is also used as a tactic by tribesmen to resolve disputes with the government, and by opportunists hoping to sell hostages on to other groups.