Efforts to Release the Four Kidnapped Belgians Pay Off at Last The 4 Kidnapped Belgians Released [Archives:1999/29/Front Page]

July 19 1999

Efforts to safely free the four abducted Belgian hostages: Mr. Martens, Mr. Scholliers, Mrs. Scholliers, and Mrs. Leveeke, have paid off at last and lead to the release of the hostages yesterday, Sunday 18th July around 21:45 local time. Based on Yemen Times sources, these efforts were mainly made by a number of Sheiks headed by Sheik Al-Shaif, the Chairman of the Rights and Liberties Committee of the Parliament, who is one of the sons of the area where the hostages were held, and which is called Barat . The mediators agreed to meet the demands of the kidnappers which included some social projects and services, plus a number of other demands which were not declared. Sources indicate that the tourists were taken to Sanaa along with the Barat Province Manager and a number of armed security forces. The group is expected to safely arrive to Sanaa round 5:00 am today. 
The 4 men and women, along with their Yemeni driver, were kidnapped last Thursday while on the road to Amran (Barat-Harath Sufyan), 40 kilometers northwest of Sanaa. Sources say that the four tourists were among a group of seven Belgians on their way to Sa’ada. The group was travelling in two vehicles, which were ambushed by a group of tribesmen. While the first vehicle was released, the second jeep was stopped and taken away to an unknown location, along with the 4 Belgians and the driver who were inside. Eye witness claim that the authorities sent Yemeni forces to Barak in order to surround the area where the hostages were held and pressure the tribesmen to release them. Reports say that the kidnapped tourists are currently safe and sound and were -as is the case in most hostage takings- treated well while in captivity. This incident is considered to be the last in a series of such kidnapping incidents that generally result in no harm whatsoever to the hostages, and which most of the time are done to secure some projects and financial aid for the kidnappers.