Medics say Yemen kidnap couple `in good health'

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The Independent Online
A BRITISH couple taken hostage in Yemen were yesterday said to be in good health after their kidnappers allowed them to be visited by hospital staff.

Eddie Rosser and his wife Mary, both aged in their 60s, were seen by staff from a hospital in Sadaa, north of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. A Dutch family, including two young children, who were kidnapped at the same time, were also seen and said to be well.

Yesterday a Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are in touch with the Yemeni authorities, who are in contact with the kidnappers, and they have told us they are hoping for a release soon."

The spokesman added that the British government had obtained an assurance from the Yemeni authorities that they would not use force to free the six - a tactic that went lethally wrong when security forces attempted to rescue 16 Western tourists seized shortly after Christmas. Four of the tourists - including three Britons - died in the subsequent shoot- out.

Mr Rosser and his wife were kidnapped on Sunday as they and their Dutch colleagues were travelling in three cars on a road near Hawf in the Imran province, 87 miles north of Sanaa.

The couple, from Lechlade in Gloucestershire, who have a son and daughter, were working for the medical aid organisation Worldwide Services of the Netherlands, and were halfway through a six-month contract.

The six hostages, including the Dutch couple's two children - boys aged six and seven - were ambushed on the main highway as they drove through a mountainous area in northern Yemen, known locally as "kidnap corridor".

It is understood that the kidnappers are using the Westerners to try to secure the release of a colleague who is in jail. They are not thought to be linked to the group that seized the tourists last month.

Sharon Chase, who runs a newsagent in Lechlade, said Mr and Mrs Rosser were a quiet couple. She said: "I was astounded when I heard they had been taken hostage - they really are an average, good-natured couple."

Meanwhile, it was announced last night that representatives of Britain's Muslim community will meet Foreign Office ministers tonight to discuss the five Britons detained in Yemen on terrorism charges.

A delegation from the Muslim Council of Britain will meet Derek Fatchett and Baroness Symons at the Foreign Office in London.

Mohsin Ghalain, 18, from London, Ghulam Hussein, 25, from Luton, and Shahid Butt, 33, Malik Nassar Harhra, 26, Samad Ahmed, 21, all from Birmingham, were arrested on 24 December on suspicion of links with Islamic extremists.

The men were charged last week with associating with armed groups, forming a plan to commit murder and destruction, and possessing weapons, in connection with the kidnapping of the Westerners.