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Kidnapped German freed in Yemen

World

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.

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Shadows of tribesmen loyal to the al-Houthi Shi'ite rebel group are cast on the ground as they perform the traditional Baraa dance at the conclusion of a two-day tribal gathering in the northwestern Yemeni province of Saada, on the border with Saudi Arabia July 12, 2012. The mountainous province of Saada is the stronghold of the Shi'ite rebels, known as the Houthis after the clan of their leaders, who had fought government forces for years until an uprising against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh last year gave them a free hand in the lawless frontier province. Trying to counter the threat of al Qaeda, Washington is deepening its involvement in Yemen, using drone strikes to target suspected militants and training the Yemeni army to fight them. The tribal gathering was held to denounce what they say is a U.S. interference in Yemen. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (YEMEN - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)

“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.

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