Uzbeki doctor Salif John, who was kidnapped in northern Yemen last week, has been freed. The doctor was working for a provincial hospital, and was snatched last week in Marib. Local sources said that the release of the doctor came after a tribal mediation paid a ransom to the kidnappers.
Foreigners are frequently kidnapped in Yemen, where the security situation has worsened since 2011 when a political upheaval severely weakened government control. More than 24 kidnapping cases occurred in 2013, and all ended with negotiations with the kidnappers, who dominantly belong to Yemeni tribes. Five mystery cases remain, involving a Ukrainian doctor, Iranian diplomat, Saudi diplomat, American journalist and Sierra Leonean expert, who are still hostages.
Sana’a has become infamous for kidnappings during the last two years, where it was ranked the first in security breakdowns, and has recorded 17 kidnapping cases out of the 35 that have occurred. Abyan recorded four, and Shabwa recorded three. Marib, Hodeida, and Taiz all recorded two each.
Hostage-taking is sometimes carried out by militants who are specifically targeting Westerners, but also as a tribesman tactic to resolve disputes with the central government, as well as by opportunists hoping to sell hostages to other groups.