The Defense Ministry of Yemen confirmed on Thursday (Feb. 2) the release of U.N. employees abducted in Sanaa two days ago.
The statement said the six aid workers — a German, an Iraqi, a Palestinian, a Colombian and two Yemenis — were released following mediation efforts led by Yemeni Energy Minister Saleh Samee.
On Wednesday (Feb. 1), one of the kidnappers told Reuters the prisoner — a Yemeni tribesman who the kidnappers want released in exchange — has been “handed over to the mediators.” The prisoner has been held by authorities allegedly for shooting at pro-democracy protesters.
But Samee, who led a team of prominent locals in the negotiations, told The Asssociated Press the kidnappers released the hostages without collecting any money or securing guarantees from the government of the release of their colleagues from prison.
A U.N. official in Sanaa who spoke on condition of anonymity said the organization is awaiting confirmation of the release.
The six aid workers are working for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. They were abducted while traveling in the city of Wadi Ahjar in the governate of Al Mahwit. Their release comes days after Yemeni tribesmen freed a Norwegian expert of the U.N. Development Program. The UNDP expert was kidnapped early January in Sanaa.
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