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Yemen kidnappers free Swiss woman

28 February 2013, 18:06

Doha - A Swiss woman held hostage for nearly a year in Yemen has been freed by her kidnappers and flown to Doha following mediation by Qatar, the Qatari state news agency QNA reported late on Wednesday.

Armed tribesmen had kidnapped the teacher in the western Yemeni port city of Hudaida in March 2012 to press their government to free jailed relatives, a Yemeni Interior Ministry official said last year.

QNA said that an assistant to the Qatari foreign minister and the Swiss ambassador in Doha were at the airport to greet the woman, identified as Sylvia Abrahat, upon her arrival aboard a private plane from Yemen late on Wednesday.

"I thank the Qatari negotiating team, which had worked for months in silence, patience and wisdom until we reached this result," QNA quoted the Qatari official, Ali bin Fahd al-Hajeri, as saying, without giving further details.

Kidnappings of foreigners and Yemenis are common in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state. Many are often freed unharmed.

Family's appeal

A Finnish couple and an Austrian man are currently being held by suspected Islamist militants, having been sold by armed tribesmen who had kidnapped them in December last year, according to a senior Yemeni official.

The Austrian hostage had appeared in a video posted on YouTube earlier this month, saying he would be killed if ransom money was not paid to a Yemeni tribe within a week.

Pictured with what appeared to be an AK-47 assault rifle pointed at his head, Dominik Neubauer had said in a video posted on 21 February he would be killed if a Yemeni tribe did not get ransom money within a week.

His family responded on Wednesday with its own appeal in a YouTube video for his release as his hostage takers' deadline for a ransom payment neared.

Yemen last month suspended a military operation against al-Qaeda-linked militants in al-Manaseh while tribal leaders tried to secure the release of the three hostages.

- Reuters


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