Kidnappers Under Siege [Archives:2001/49/Front Page]

December 3 2001

The kidnappers of Karl Lienert, the German mechanical engineering expert abducted last Wednesday night, are still under siege by security forces in the Al-Mahjaza area, 150 km east of Sanaa.
According to tribal sources from the region, no negotiations have yet begun, while military forces have launched intensive attacks against the area where the kidnappers are thought to be hiding. Three houses were damaged as a result of the offensive in the village, whose families have left for their safety.
A group of five tribesmen belonging to Al Zaidi tribe of Jahm abducted Karl Lienert at gunpoint from Baghdad street, near the heart of the capital Sanaa, late Wednesday. The kidnappers stopped Karl while he was driving his car and forced him into their vehicle.
According to official sources, the German was kidnapped near a house belonging to a prominent military personality. But despite gunfire upon the kidnappers’ vehicle by soldiers, they couldn’t prevent the kidnappers from escaping. The kidnappers were able to take the hostage to a mountainous area in the vast Al-Mahjiza region of Mareb.
Mechanized Brigade 25, belonging to the military forces which were surrounding the area, closed all main roads to the region before clamping a total siege on the region.
On another level, strict security measures were taken in Sanaa, where dozens of inspection points were formed and dozens of tribesmen belonging to tribes from Khawlan were arrested. According to Mareb tribes, those arrested will be used as hostages to pressure the release of the kidnapped German.
The kidnappers tried to hide the hostage from security forces, but failed before security forces were able to locate them.
Tribal sources in the region expect that extensive pressure by the military forces surrounding the area could lead to the surrender of the kidnappers.
It is also suggested by tribal figures that the kidnapping was based on personal interests, and not for the sake of the tribe or the region.
President Saleh has stressed the importance of fighting terrorism in all its forms, including kidnapping, and is expected to push harder for security reforms, especially after agreeing with the USA that the latter would provide $140 million to support projects to qualify security systems in the country and for developmental projects in the tribal areas breeding kidnappers.
This incident comes after the Commercial Attaché at the German Embassy in Sanaa, Mr. Rainer Berns, was kidnapped on July 27 and released unharmed a couple of months later after extensive tribal mediations.
This is also the third kidnapping of a German during this year alone. More than 145 kidnapping incidents have occurred in Yemen since 1990 and have resulted in a tremendous loss to the economy of the country, which is losing more than $200 million every year.