Kidnapped SA pair: 5 suspects held

2013-05-29 22:54

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Sana'a - Five suspects were arrested in connection with the abduction of two South Africans in the Yemeni city of Taiz, a government spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The whereabouts of the pair, who were kidnapped in front of their hotel on Monday, are still unknown.

The two, a man and a woman, were believed to have been involved in the development of the hotel, in the town.

Meanwhile, AP reported that the Yemeni lawmaker, who authorities have accused of orchestrating the kidnapping to pressure authorities to give him a disputed piece of land, has denied involvement in the incident.

Abdel-Hamid el-Batra on Wednesday described accusation as "baseless" and said authorities were trying to cover up their failures in protecting foreigners.

Abductions are not rare in Yemen, but Monday's kidnapping of foreigners was unusual in its circumstances and was the first in Taiz, near the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.

Police said they received a call from associates of el-Batra saying he organised the kidnapping, pledging to hand over the foreigners in exchange for the land.

Earlier, Sapa, reported that a meeting seeking to secure the safe release of the South Africans was to have taken place, according to the international relations department.

"We will receive a report of that meeting as soon as it [the meeting] is concluded,  spokesperson Nelson Kgwete said.

South Africa's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sadiq Jaffer, flew to Yemen on Tuesday night.

The Saudi Arabian embassy is accredited to Yemen.

The department could not divulge more information about the couple.

"We notified the families of the couple and they asked that we do not disclose information about their relatives to the media."

Read more on:    sa  |  yemen  |  southern africa  |  abductions

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