Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store said the U.N. official was released unharmed.
A Norwegian U.N. official snatched from the streets of Sana’a by armed tribesmen was released unharmed, Norwegian and Yemeni officials said Friday. The official who was not identified, was released following negotiations by Yemeni officials, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store said in a statement. It was not immediately known what, if any, deal was struck by Yemen with the tribesmen for the official’s release.
The official was kidnapped on January 15 by gunmen demanding the release of a jailed tribal leader, officials said. The victim was part of a team of U.N. election observers scheduled to oversee Yemen’s presidential elections in February, officials said. Interior Ministry officials said previously the kidnapping took place just three miles south of the presidential palace, in one of the busiest and most secure neighborhoods in Yemen. Tribal sources said six men forced the Norwegian into a vehicle and drove him off to Marib, about 170 km (105 miles) north of Sana’a.
The kidnappers were demanding the release of Ali Nasser Hareekdan whom a local council official in Marib province said was the prime suspect behind the killing of four Yemeni troops. The soldiers were responsible for securing a business route for oil tankers.
According to tribal sources, the Yemeni government sent three negotiators in an effort to have the Norwegian released. Marib province is well known for tribes who kidnap foreigners and use them as a bargaining chip to demand concessions from the governments.The hostages are rarely harmed.
” The Norwegian abducted arrived in Sana’a and enjoys good health,” an official at the U.N. office in Sana’a said that the man will return to his home country to recuperate.