Yemen tribesmen free abducted Uzbek doctor, says local official

Reuters , Monday 31 Oct 2011

Doctor held since February released but unclear if government acceded to kidnappers' demands

Yemeni tribesmen have freed an Uzbek doctor they abducted eight months ago in protest at an airstrike on their area.

The doctor was handed to mediators late on Sunday and was on his way to the capital Sanaa, a local official said early on Monday.

It was not immediately clear whether the government had agreed to the kidnappers' demand to hold accountable those responsible for the airstrike against Al-Qaeda suspects in December 2009 that killed dozens of people.

Kidnappings of foreigners and Yemenis are common in Yemen, where hostages are often used by disgruntled tribesmen to press demands on authorities.

In late February, tribesmen had lured Abdulhamid Jun out of the hospital where he worked in Shabwa province, an area of central Yemen where both separatists and Al-Qaeda militants are active, by asking him to treat relatives they said were injured.

They then abducted him and took him to the neighbouring Abyan province, the site of the airstrike.

Yemen, which shares a border with top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, launched a major crackdown on Al-Qaeda's Yemen-based regional arm after it claimed an attempt to bomb a US-bound plane in December 2009.

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