Armed tribesmen kidnapped a German oil expert working for a giant gas exportation project in southern Yemen on Sunday, to press for the release of a jailed fellow tribesman, a company official and tribal sources said.
The official from the Yemen LNG company said the German expert was abducted along with two Yemeni engineers from al-Rawdha area, about 30km from their project’s site at the Arabian Sea port of Balhaf, in the south-eastern province of Shabwa.
“Armed tribesmen kidnapped the German expert and two Yemenis at around 3:30pm in Shabwa,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
He said the German hostage works as a pipeline expert for Amecspie Hawk, a sub-contractor with Yemen LNG that runs the project.
Amecspie Hawk is building a 320km-long pipeline form the oil refinery in Mareb to the LNG exporting port of Balhaf.
Tribal sources said the kidnappers are demanding the release of a fellow clansman, who is in police custody in the province of Abyan.
A source said two policemen were injured in a clash with the kidnappers at a checkpoint in Azzan district, when police tried to stop the car that carried the kidnappers and their hostages.
He said one of the policemen was in critical condition and that he was rushed to a hospital in the southern port city of Aden.
Police officials said security forces were sent to Shabwa, about 570km southeast of Sanaa to hunt down the kidnappers.
They said security forces set up extra checkpoints on roads leading to the kidnappers’ village in the Lamater area of Shabwa.
A local source said the abductors belong to the Laqmoush tribe in Shabwa, and that they were demanding the release of a jailed fellow tribesman accused of murdering a man from the same tribe in 1989.
The kidnapping is the third involving foreigners and the second involving German nationals in about a month.
On Dec. 15, three Germans were captured in western Yemen. They were released four days later. On Jan. 3, a South African mother and her two sons were seized by tribesmen in the southern province of Abyan. They were released a day later.
Disgruntled tribesmen from impoverished areas of Yemen often take hostages to use as bargaining chips to press the government for aid, jobs or the release of detained fellow clansmen.