BEIRUT

Middle East

Yemeni abductor promises to free Italian: report

SANAA: Tribal negotiations are ongoing with Yemeni authorities to free within "two days" an Italian embassy security agent kidnapped in Sanaa over the weekend, his abductor told a local news website on Wednesday.

"There is tribal mediation... and hopefully the matter will be resolved tonight, tomorrow, or over the coming two days," Ali Naser Huraidkan said according to a private Internet site close to Yemeni tribes, marebpress.net.

The kidnapping was only to "put pressure on the Yemeni government," he told the website, adding that the Italian is in "good health and is being well-treated."

"He has everything he asks for -- Internet, telephone and anything else he demands... better than the facilities he's got in Italy," the abductor said.

The interior ministry said on Monday that Huraidkan, from Al-Jalal tribe in the eastern Marib province, had abducted the security agent identified by Italian media as 29-year-old Alessandro Spadotto.

Huraidkan, wanted for involvement in "cases of murder and banditry," kidnapped the Italian to press the authorities to drop charges against him and to offer him compensation, the ministry said.

Marebpress said Huraidkan is also demanding that 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.

A Yemeni security official and a Western diplomat had said that unknown gunmen kidnapped the Italian on Sunday.

According to La Stampa newspaper, Spadotto managed to contact a member of his family by mobile text message following his abduction.

Italian news agency ANSA had cited officials as saying he is 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.

Foreigners are frequently kidnapped in Yemen by armed tribesmen, who use them as bargaining chips with the authorities.

More than 200 people have been abducted in Yemen over the past 15 years. The majority have been freed alive and well.

A French staffer with the International Committee of the Red Cross who was kidnapped in April in the northern port city of Hudaida was released last month unharmed.

But a Swiss woman and a Saudi diplomat kidnapped by Al-Qaeda militants in March remain hostage.

 
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