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Foreign Hostages Freed in Yemen

February 2, 1999

SAN`A, Yemen (AP) _ A British couple and a Dutch family of four were released in Yemen today after spending more than two weeks in captivity, security officials said.

The hostages, including two boys ages 6 and 7, were in the capital San`a and were healthy, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

In England, a British Foreign Office spokesman confirmed the British couple, Eddie and Mary Rosser, were released and added: ``They are safe, alive and well and in the care of the British ambassador and his staff.″

Dutch Ambassador Peter Dorst confirmed that the Dutch family was released. He said the family was planning to remain in Yemen and return to work as soon as possible.

The hostages were released following negotiations between the kidnappers and Sheik Naji bin Abdel-Aziz al-Shayef, the leader of the Bakeel tribe, to which the kidnappers belong.

The kidnappers had demanded the release of two fellow tribesmen detained in a murder case. It was not clear whether that demand was met, but tribal officials said the government paid $50,000 and provided the kidnappers with four vehicles to secure the release of the hostages, who were abducted on Jan. 17.

The Rossers, both in their 60s, work for the Dutch aid organization Worldwide Services. The Dutch hostages, Hans and Berta Koolstra, work for the same organization. They were seized with their sons, Rense, 7, and Gerrit, 6.

In December, Islamic extremist tribesmen seized 16 Westerners in a kidnapping that ended with three Britons and an Australian being killed in a shootout with Yemeni soldiers.

Meanwhile, negotiations were still continuing to gain the release of two Germans, officials said.

Tribesmen had kidnapped three Germans Jan. 26 but released one of them Saturday to deliver a message with their demands to authorities and return to her abductors.

She has not returned, and authorities were trying to secure the release of her mother and brother.

The name of the German woman has not been released, but officials say she is a 30-year-old midwife.

She, her mother and brother were abducted by members of the al-Shaaby clan of the Bakeel tribe.

The German government has appealed to the Yemeni government not to use any force to free the German hostages.

The tribal clan is demanding that the Yemeni government arrest the alleged assassin of an al-Shaaby chief, security officials said.

The kidnappers have threatened unspecified consequences to her mother and brother if she does not return.

On Monday, tribesmen also released an Irish oil worker after holding him hostage for a few hours.

Update hourly