Yemen: Italian policeman 'held by tribal militiamen'
last update: July 31, 12:36
Sanaa, 31 July (AKI) - An Italian police officer abducted from the Yemeni capital on Sunday is being held by tribal militiamen in a location east of the capital, according to the Mareb Press website
The Carabiniere paramilitary policeman was in the hands of a local tribe in the Mareb area 170 kilometres east of Sanaa, headed by chieftain Ali Nasser Hariqdan, Mareb Press cited unnamed tribal sources as saying.
He was abducted as a bargaining chip with the central government over several unspecified demands by the militiamen and Al-Qaeda is not involved in the kidnapping, Mareb Press quoted the sources as saying.
The safe release of the 29-year-old police officer named as Alessandro S. was "a top priority", Italy's foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday, adding that diplomats were working to free him.
The police officer was seized as he was shopping in an area of Sanaa close to the Italian embassy, where he heads the embassy's security detail.
Yemen's foreign minister Abu Bakr al Qirbi vowed the government would give its "full cooperation" in helping secure the policeman's safe release, the Italian foreign ministry said.
Yemeni security services initially believed a criminal group was behind the kidnapping.
Kidnappings of foreigners are common in Yemen, both by criminal gangs demanding a ransom and by tribesmen seeking concessions from the central government.
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