Monday, June 15, 2009

Aid Workers Kidnapped, Murdered in Yemen

Terrible news out of Yemen where a group of foreign aid workers was kidnapped over the weekend and have now been found murdered. Via CNN:
(CNN) -- Seven foreign workers seized by militants in Yemen reportedly have been killed, according to the Yemen Post newspaper.

The workers were among a group of nine abducted that included seven Germans, a Briton and a South Korean. Germany's Foreign Ministry said it is in close contact with the German Embassy in Yemen but couldn't confirm any details at this stage.

The German hostages included three children, two nurses, an engineer and his wife, according to Yemen's state-run SABA news agency. All nine hostages worked at a hospital in the volatile Yemeni province of Saada, where they were abducted Sunday.

Yemen's Ministry of Interior told the Yemen Post that the bodies of seven hostages were found Monday in the streets of Shukwan, a neighborhood in Saada, a day after Houthi rebels seized them, the newspaper's editor in chief, Hakim Al-Masmari, told CNN.

More details are available from AFP, including the fact that the group was part of a Baptist mission group working at a hospital in the town of Jebla.
SANAA (AFP) — A British engineer was feared to be among seven foreign hostages, one of them a child, who were found murdered in northern Yemen on Monday, security officials said.

"We have found the corpses of seven people who were kidnapped," a local security official said. "They were killed."

Two of the three children captured with the group were reportedly found alive.

The bodies were found by the son of a tribal leader in Noshour, east of the volatile Saada mountainous area of northern Yemen where the nine were abducted, the official said.

In London, the Foreign Office confirmed it was looking into reports a Briton was among the victims.

The Yemeni authorities had accused Shiite Zaidi rebels in Saada of seizing seven Germans, a British engineer and a South Korean woman teacher. The rebels denied the charge.

The nine -- among them three German children and two women nurses -- belong to an international relief group that has been working at a hospital in Saada province bordering Saudi Arabia for 35 years, a local official said on Sunday.

Yemeni authorities are blaming Houthi rebels for the kidnappings and murders, but Yemen expert Jane Novak says this is doubtful and that al Wahishi (Al Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula) is more likely to be responsible (via The Jawa Report):
The rebels say it occurred next the headquarters of the Political Security (the secret police) in central Sa'ada. However like every other group in Yemen, when news hits the western media, the rebels were unable to put out a statement in English. Ergo, yet more bad google translation:
Houthi deny that any of the sons of Saada relationship is responsible for the kidnapping of German. Power is the power (the government) bears full responsibility for their fate. The area where it was said that they had kidnapped them (Graz) is next to the Political Security in the heart of the city of Saada. We emphasize that the charge for us is null and false accusation and slander is a matter of political vindictiveness, which is evidence of the bankruptcy (of the regime).

Of course the Reuters report is by Mohammed Saddam, Yemeni President Saleh's personal translator, and the report that Shiite rebels kidnapped them came from the military. The Saada War has raged since 2004. The rebels have never kidnapped anyone or targeted civilians in that time (unlike the Yemeni government which bombed the hell out of quite a few cities and kidnapped hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians including children.)

Beside government kidnapping, tribal kidnapping is also common in Yemen, usually the demand is the release of relatives held as hostages by the government. And normally when tribesmen kidnap foreigners, they call it in, the hostages call home, everybody drinks tea and waits. No one gets hurt, and sooner or later, the tribal relatives are freed and so are the western hostages.

A terrible situation all around. Our deepest condolences to the families of the murdered aid workers who sacrificed not only their time and effort but their very lives out of love for their fellow man. Prayers that the guilty will be brought to justice and that this will not be used as an excuse to persecute the innocent.

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