News24

3rd child taken in Yemen thought dead

2010-05-18 18:05

Berlin - The brother of two German girls kidnapped in Yemen last year and freed by Saudi security forces is probably dead and there is no word on the fate of the parents, a family spokesperson told AFP on Tuesday.

"There is one missing ... We have to assume that the boy is no longer alive," said Reinhard Poetschke, a family spokesperson.

According to media reports, the boy was a 1-year-old and the two girls freed are aged 4 and 6 respectively.

German officials in January gave the ages of the three children as 1, 3 and 5.

The two girls will be brought back to relatives as quickly as possible, Poetschke said, adding: "We are in constant contact with the foreign ministry."

Relatives were informed on Monday that the pair had been freed, Poetschke said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Saudi interior ministry announced the release of the pair, kidnapped in Yemen last year, following an apparent cross-border military operation.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement: "We are relieved that the Saudi security forces have succeeded in freeing two of our five compatriots kidnapped in Yemen."

He said the girls would return to Germany on Wednesday.

"The two little girls are currently under the protection of the Saudi authorities. They are doing well given the difficult circumstances."

During a brief trip to Sana'a in January, Westerwelle said that Yemeni authorities had told him they knew the whereabouts of the family.

At the time, German media reported that the kidnappers were demanding a ransom.