Friday, August 3, 2012

Yemen tribesmen release Italian officer -official (updated)

Thu Aug 2, 2012 5:44pm EDT

* Italian security officer said to be in good health

* Yemeni minister unscathed in attack, aides wounded

Aug 2 (Reuters) - An Italian embassy security officer kidnapped by Yemeni tribesmen has been released unharmed, a government official said on Thursday, the same day the country's information minister survived an assassination attempt.

The incidents highlight continuing instability in Yemen five months after former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh was formally replaced by his deputy under a plan designed to forestall a slide into lawlessness.

During the uprising that toppled Saleh, militants associated with al Qaeda strengthened their position in areas of south and east Yemen, further testing central government control in a country riven with tribalism and regionalism.

"The Italian diplomat was handed over to the governor of Maarib and he is in good health and will be transferred to Sanaa later to be handed over to the Italian ambassador," the official told Reuters.

The abductors who detained the security officer in the oil-producing province of Maarib had demanded to be compensated for the detention of one of their relatives and the return of land they say they own in the capital Sanaa, a tribal source said, adding they were promised their demands will be met.

In a further sign of lawlessness in the Arabian Peninsula country, the Information Minister survived an assassination attempt when gunmen opened fire on his car in the capital Sanaa, a government source said.

The minister was not harmed but two of his aides were wounded.

Yemen's location beside leading oil exporter Saudi Arabia and astride key world shipping routes has heightened regional and Western concern over its security problems.

Yemen ranks alongside Pakistan and Afghanistan for U.S. policymakers concerned with the spread of al Qaeda networks.


Last Updated: Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:24 am (KSA) 08:24 am (GMT)

An Italian embassy security agent kidnapped in Yemen over the weekend was freed Thursday in the province of Mareb east of the capital Sanaa, a tribal source and a local official said.

Alessandro Spadotto was released following “tribal mediation” and handed over to local authorities, the source told AFP. He will be driven to the Yemeni capital on Friday morning.

The tribal mediation was backed by the governor of the province, the source said. A local official confirmed the release to AFP.

The interior ministry had said the kidnapper from the al-Jalal tribe seized the 29-year-old in Sanaa to press the authorities to drop charges against him in “cases of murder and banditry” and offer him compensation.

Marebpress, an Internet site close to Yemeni tribes, had said the abductor Ali Naser Huraidkan also wanted the authorities lift a travel ban against him.

“We want the state to respond and cancel a circular banning me from travel,” he was quoted as saying.
According to Italy’s La Stampa newspaper, Spadotto managed to contact a member of his family by mobile text message following his abduction on Sunday.

Italian news agency ANSA had cited officials as saying that he was a member of Italy’s Carabinieri military police. It also said he was picked up while in civilian clothes in a shop near the embassy.
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