Dutch couple released by kidnappers in Yemen

YemenSana'a, Yemen - A Dutch couple has been freed by kidnappers, two weeks after they were taken at gunpoint by tribesmen in Yemen, according to mediators involved in negotiations for their release. Mediators involved in negotiations over several days said Jan Hogendoorn, 54, and his wife Heleen Janszen, 49, had on Monday night been allowed to leave the tribal area where they were held.

They made their way to the capital Sana'a, accompanied by officials from Sana'a province.

Hogendoorn, an expert at a water project funded by the Dutch government in the southern Yemeni city of Taiz, and his wife were taken captive by six armed tribesmen as they were driving in a southern Sana'a suburb on March 31.

The kidnappers, members of the al-Siraj clan, took the couple at gunpoint to the mountainous district of Bani-Dhabian, some 80 kilometres east of Sana'a. The kidnappers forced the two to disguise themselves as Arabs to avoid detection.

They said they abducted the Dutch couple to put pressure on the authorities to hold accountable two provincial police chiefs in the neighbouring province of Marib, allegedly for ordering an attack on members of the al-Siraj clan at a police checkpoint in April 2008.

They also demanded financial compensation for injuries that four of their follow clansmen suffered during the checkpoint gunfight. (dpa)