Dutch couple held hostage released in Yemen

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 10, 2013 4:57 AM
Dutch couple held hostage released in Yemen

By Mohamed Ghobari

SANAA (Reuters) - A Dutch couple held hostage in Yemen since June have been released in good health, the Yemeni and Dutch governments said on Tuesday.

Judith Spiegel, who had been working in Yemen as a researcher, and her partner Boudewijn Berendsen disappeared after they left their home in Sanaa in June. No one has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

A joint statement by the two governments, read out on state television, said the couple were in good health and had been received by the Dutch ambassador. They are due to fly to the Netherlands on Wednesday.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry said they were released at the weekend.

Several Westerners have been kidnapped this year in Yemen as well as a number of Yemenis. Disgruntled tribesmen often take hostages to press the government to free jailed relatives or improve public services. Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants have been behind some of the kidnappings.

Yemen is struggling to maintain stability after mass protests in 2011 that forced out veteran President Ali Adbullah Saleh. Besides being the base for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen is also grappling with attacks on security forces, a northern rebellion and secessionists in the south.

(Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Angus MacSwan)