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Five Italian hostages released in Yemen
Cat : HDA News
Date : 2006-01-07 19:38:04                      Reader : 306

The mechanism played by the government each time to negociate with Kidnappers and give them what they want encouraged the others to do the same. With such criminel acts how tourists or investors will come?!

Associated France Press (AFP) 6/1/2006
Five Italian hostages released in Yemen
MARIB, Yemen (AFP) - Five Italians kidnapped by Yemeni tribesmen were released and their captors arrested, with the ex-hostages saying they had been treated well despite being held in the cold at gunpoint.
"We were so, so scared!" freed hostage Patrizia Rossi said by phone at the end of the impoverished country's latest kidnapping crisis.
"The tensest moment was this morning when we were freed," she told Italian television. "That was a real moment of terror. Then, when we realized we were free, we collapsed emotionally. But we are all fine."
The three women and two men arrived at Sanaa airport in a military helicopter which had carried them from the lawless region of Marib 170 kilometres (100 miles) east of the capital where they were snatched on Sunday.
The official SABA news agency said the five were freed "in a military operation" while a tribal dignitary involved in negotiations said both mediation and military action had secured their release.
"A massacre would have taken place had it not been for talks and mediations," Sheikh Jouail Touaiman, who met the kidnappers last on Thursday, told AFP.
Italy had demanded that the Yemeni government not use force to free them after the hostage-takers warned they would execute their captives if an assault took place.
"We thought we would die. During our last night we had to stay lying on the ground in silence," Piergiorgio Gamba, a doctor from the northern city of Padua, told the Italian news agency Ansa.
"It was like wartime," said Enzo Bottillo, 51, head of a driving school in the Padua region. "We had no luggage and we were very cold".
"Even if we were well treated the most humiliating situation was going to the toilet because we had to ask permission. And then later there weren't even any toilets," said Bottillo.
"Imagine what it's like having an automatic rifle gun pointed at you the whole time, being under threat permanently," said Rossi.
The other hostages, Camilla Ramigni and Maura Tonetto, are both teachers from Padua.
Rossi said the troops got close to the hideout where they were kept but she spoke of brief negotiations between captors and the troops.
"We heard helicopters hovering over the place. Shortly after, a captor walked out and started negotiating with the security forces in a loud and tense voice," she told AFP.
"He returned minutes later and asked the other captor to leave us... They both walked out in the direction of the troops who later moved in," she said.
Although Rossi mentioned the arrest of only two captors, a security source told AFP that six kidnappers were arrested and taken to Sanaa.
In Rome, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi hailed the release and thanked the Yemeni government.
"I want to express my deepest satisfaction at this freeing without bloodshed and I sincerely thank the government of Yemen for its precious help," he said.
    Pope Benedict XVI also expressed his joy over the news.
The Yemeni authorities had sent in more troops to the region Thursday as the kidnappers stood firm on demands that they would only be released in exchange for eight of their own number held in jail.
The five were seized by tribesmen seeking to settle a local vendetta in the Marib region.
Their kidnapping occurred a day after a German family of five, including a retired top diplomat, was freed. It was the fourth abduction of foreigners within the space of three months.
Despite its proximity to oil-rich Saudi Arabia, Yemen is one of the world's poorest countries and more than 200 foreigners have been kidnapped in the past decade.
Yemeni tribesmen, who are notoriously unruly, often kidnap them to use as bargaining chips to try to make financial demands of the government or settle local scores.
While most cases have been resolved peacefully, three Britons and an Australian seized by Islamist militants were killed when security forces stormed their hideout in December 1998.
Italy and Germany are the main markets for tourism to Yemen.

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