Yemeni tribesmen free eight truck drivers

Reuters News

10/13/2012 4:17:29 AM - Reuters News

ADEN (Reuters) - Yemeni tribesmen freed four Syrian and four Yemeni truck drivers on Saturday five days after they were abducted in an attempt to pressure the government to release jailed kinsmen, a security official said.

The Sabbeiha tribesmen had seized the eight truck drivers as they passed through the province of Lahej in south Yemen while traveling from Aden to Hodayda on the Red Sea coast. "All eight drivers have been released and are on their way to the Lahej governorate building," the security official told Reuters.

The captors were demanding the release of 13 tribesmen arrested after clashes with security forces over land disputes, the official, adding that that the government would look into releasing the men.

"The condition for releasing the drivers was that officials would look into freeing the jailed tribesmen, and this is now under consideration," he added.

Tribesmen have previously kidnapped foreigners to put heat on the Sanaa government over rows often involving land or jailed compatriots, but captives have generally been freed unharmed.

Yemen's wealthier Gulf neighbours and the United States are concerned that continuing disorder may be exploited by al Qaeda and other Islamist militants to threaten the world's top oil producer Saudi Arabia next door and nearby shipping lanes.

(Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Amena Bakr; Editing by Mark Heinrich)