Five engineers and two children are released after nine months of captivity [Archives:2008/1148/Local News]

April 21 2008

Almigdad Mojalli
SANA'A, April 20 ) Members of the Bani Dhabyan tribe peacefully released seven hostages, two of which were teenage boys, last Wednesday after mediation with the tribe's sheikhs after nine months. The seven people had been kidnapped and held for ransom over a land dispute. “The mediation consisted of the sheikhs of Bani Dhabyan [securing] the release of the two children and the five engineers peacefully after the government announced to release them by force,” said Ali Saleh Al-Komim, the father of Abdullah, one of the two child captives. “The sheikhs gave the kidnappers cars valued at YR 45 million and committed to oblige the kidnappers' opponents to repay their claimed money,” he added.

The lead kidnapper, Abd-Rabu Alttam, stated during the past months that he wanted YR 70 million for his share of land located on Taiz Street in Sana'a and YR 150 million as interest.

Alttam told the Yemen Times that his partner Ali Al-Sha'arami and he released the seven hostages after they received YR 85 million, which was only a part of the money they spent during the past one year and a half. “The mediation consisted of the sheikhs of our tribe and the police chief in the district who came and gave me YR 40 million and gave my partner Ali Al-Sha'arami YR 45 million, and this sum is part of the money that we spent in following up our share of the land's value,” said Alttam. He added that the Minister of Interior paid YR 10 million, while the sheikhs paid the rest of the sum.

The two teenage hostages involved in the case, Abdul Allah Ali Saleh al-Komin,15, and Mohammad Yahya Naser al-Komim,17, were kidnapped in Sana'a in June 2007. According to security statements, the teenagers were isolated in a remote district of Bani Dhabyan since that time. Alttam's involvement in a land dispute led him to kidnap the boys because they shared the same surname (Al-Komim) as one of the protagonists in the dispute.

On January 8, 2008 after the case had stagnated for six months, Alttam took more hostages. Five engineers who were surveying a road project in Bani Dhabyan were kidnapped by Alttam. These five men, according to Ismail Al-Moayed, their manager at Yemen Rock Office, had no relation to Alttam's dispute. The Minister of Interior, Rashad Al-Alimi, announced last month in a parliamentary session that his ministry has failed to secure the release of two teens and five engineers kidnapped and held in Bani Dhabyan in Sana'a governorate's Khawlan district, located 50 kilometers east of Sana'a, for nine months. The hostages endured terrible conditions in regards to food, accommodations and health care.

According to Rafeeq Radman, one of the kidnapped engineers, he and his fellow hostages suffered from disease and malnutrition, but had no access to the necessary medicines or even to basic ablutions like a bathroom, a toilet, or running water, he said. “We all live together in one room and have eaten only two kinds of food, aseed [similar to porridge], and beans, since we were kidnapped three months ago.” Three food-strikes on consecutive days brought no reward and, as Radman added, “one of my colleagues is suffering from stomach sores and needs medicine.”