Austrian hostages freed in Yemen

Two Austrian tourists kidnapped in Yemen have been released safe and sound, Austrian foreign ministry spokeswoman Astrid Harz has said.

    Yemeni tribesmen often abduct Westeners

    One of the freed hostages, architect Peter Schurz, told an official who was sent to Yemen that the kidnappers had treated him and Barbara Meisterhofer "correctly and politely" during their ordeal.
    Harz said the two wanted to have a good sleep in a hotel as their next priority. They had been snatched on Wednesday.
    Yemeni tribesmen had been holding the Austrians to win the release of relatives held on suspicion of travelling to Iraq to fight the US-led forces, police in the region said on Thursday.
    It was the third abduction of foreign tourists in Yemen this year.
    Last month, two Swiss holidaymakers were kidnapped in Maarib by a tribal chief demanding the release of his brother, detained on suspicion of car theft.
    In August, three Spaniards were briefly abducted in the south.

    Despite its proximity to oil-rich Saudi Arabia, Yemen is one of the world's poorest countries and more than 200 foreigners have been kidnapped in the past decade.
    Nearly all of the kidnappings have been carried out by tribesmen seeking to put pressure on the central government and the hostages have generally been released unharmed.
    But in December 1998, three Britons and an Australian seized by Islamist militants were killed when security forces stormed their hideout.



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