Possible Release of Kidnapped German Diplomat Soon [Archives:2001/33/Front Page]

August 13 2001

Reliable sources revealed last Friday to Yemen Times that intensifying efforts may lead to the release of Rainer Berns, 56, the Trade Attaché of the German Embassy, possibly within the coming few days.
This development comes as the kidnappers were confirmed to belong to two groups, one tribal from Mareb and the other religious. The two groups decided to coordinate and carry out such a sophisticated operation in Sanaa City after planning for it in Germany itself, as the kidnappers seemed to have researched when Mr. Berns would arrive in Yemen and where he would be on the day he was kidnapped, so as to carry out the operation smoothly.
“The operation was done with great caution and confidence. It cannot have happened without careful prior planning,” an official told Yemen Times.
The sources added that beside the telephone call, there were also two letters in English, hand written by Berns and sent to the embassy. The first letter however was not received by the embassy while the second was. In his second one-page letter to the embassy Berns requested that the embassy and authorities concerned exert the greatest efforts to have him released by agreeing to the demands of the kidnappers, whatever they were. The demands of the kidnappers repeated the known USD 1 million along with other hidden demands not revealed so far. The letter also explained that Berns is deteriorating in health and needs to be released soon. In his letter he indicated that he was blindfolded and taken away from the spot at 60-meter street to where he is currently kept in no more than 15 minutes. Hence, it is expected that Berns is still in Sanaa City.
However, tribal sources said that Berns had been taken on Friday August 3 to an area in Mareb governorate called “Wadi Dhana”. The number of the vehicle that the kidnappers used is known by security forces and it seems to belong to a tribal group in Mareb.
Meanwhile, the German team headed by former German Ambassador to Sanaa, Dr. Helga von Strachwitz and consisting of that which arrived last Thursday to follow up the case and work in cooperation with the Yemeni security forces and government to put an end to the captivity of the German diplomat. The team had started its mission by collecting all available documents and evidence regarding the location of the hostage and started coordinating with Foreign Minister, Dr. Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi to hopefully have Berns released soon.
It is worth noting that the sources confirmed the report published last week in Yemen Times regarding the USD 1 million ransom demand by the kidnappers. The news about this ransom was circulated worldwide through several wire services including Xinhua, and many news channels such as Al-Jazeerah.