Armed Yemeni tribesmen release kidnapped German family

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The Independent Online

Armed tribesmen yesterday released Jürgen Chrobog, a former German deputy foreign minister, and his family of four, three days after they had kidnapped the tourists in a bid to force the government to free detained members of their eastern Yemeni tribe.

"We are safe, thank God," Magda Chrobog, the politician's wife, said in a mobile phone call as the family, accompanied by a top government negotiator, Awadh bin al-Wazir, flew by helicopter to Aden. The release came after protracted negotiations with the kidnappers raised false hopes of an imminent release several times.

The family and three Yemeni assistants were kidnapped on Wednesday when tribesmen stopped their two-car convoy on a remote mountain road in Shabwa province, east Yemen, where they were holidaying. Mr Chrobog, 65, served as deputy foreign minister in the government of Gerhard Schröder, which left office in November after its narrow defeat by Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats.

Tribesmen frequently kidnap tourists in an attempt to force concessions from the government in Yemen. Usually hostages are released unharmed, but a British woman was among several killed in 2000 when security forces carried out a botched raid to free them.