Yemen hostage takers release Swiss woman

A Swiss woman held hostage in Yemen for nearly a year has been freed and has arrived in Qatar, the Swiss government and the official QNA news agency said on Thursday.

Yemen hostage takers release Swiss woman
Image: Screenshot from YouTube

The hostage, who was "abducted last year in Yemen, arrived overnight at Doha airport after having been freed thanks to mediation by Qatar," said the agency, without elaborating.

Gunmen abducted the woman on March 14, 2012 from her home in Hodeida, western Yemen, where she had been working there as a language teacher.

Her abductors took her to the southeastern province of Shabwa where Al-Qaeda has a strong presence.

A Yemeni interior ministry spokesman said the kidnappers had called on the Sanaa government to free members of their tribe in exchange for her release.

Switzerland confirmed the woman was free and had arrived in Doha, with ATS news agency saying that Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter had already spoken to her by telephone.

She was in good health, and was poised to return to her homeland, ATS reported.

The ministry hailed Qatar's role in freeing the 33-year-old woman, but gave no further details.

QNA quoted Qatar's assistant foreign minister Ali bin Fahd al-Hajiri as saying: "I take this opportunity to thank the Qatari negotiating team who has been working during the past few months silently, and with wisdom and patience until we got to this positive outcome."

In a video posted on the Internet in May last year, the woman had said she was in the hands of Al-Qaeda, while in a second video, she implored Switzerland to help free her.

Most kidnappings of foreigners in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state are carried out by members of the country's powerful tribes who use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the central government.

Less frequently, Al-Qaeda militants carry out such kidnappings.

Yemeni authorities are still trying to free two Finns and an Austrian snatched from central Sanaa late last year.

The Austrian man and Finnish man and woman were abducted on December 21st as they prepared to travel to the southern port of Aden via Yemen's second city Taez.

Yemeni security officials had said the three were being held by Al-Qaeda-linked tribesmen in the eastern province of Marib.

Here's the video from May 2012:

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Swiss hostage ‘killed by jihadis in Mali’: ministry

A Swiss woman being held hostage in Mali "was apparently killed by kidnappers... about a month ago", Bern's foreign ministry said in a statement Friday.

Swiss hostage 'killed by jihadis in Mali': ministry
The information was provided by Sophie Petronin (above), who returned to France on Friday after four years in captivity. Photo: Stringer/AFP
“It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of our fellow citizen,” foreign affairs chief Ignazio Cassis said, adding that “I condemn this cruel act and express my deepest sympathy to the relatives”.
Switzerland did not release the name of the hostage who had been killed, but said they had been held by the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), an alliance comprising several jihadist groups aligned to al-Qaeda that has claimed responsibility for some of the biggest attacks in the Sahel region.
The foreign ministry (DFAE) said that “information about the killing was obtained by the French authorities from the recently released French hostage” Sophie Petronin, who returned to France on Friday after being freed by the Malian insurgents following almost four years in captivity.
Swiss authorities “are making every effort to find out more about the circumstances of the killing and the whereabouts of the remains,” the DFAE said, adding  that it “demands handing over” of the hostage's body.