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Yemen Seeks Hostage Crisis End

March 3, 2000

SAN`A, Yemen (AP) _ Yemen’s prime minister today accused ``foreign hands″ of masterminding abductions as government officials tried to negotiate a peaceful end to the country’s latest hostage crisis.

Members of the Yamaneyatain tribe snatched Polish Ambassador Krzysztof Suprowicz on Wednesday and demanded the release of a fellow tribesman arrested last week, security officials said. The officials did not say why the Yamaneyatain man had been detained.

``Foreign hands are behind the kidnappings in Yemen and they aim at tarnishing Yemen’s reputation internationally and harming its security and economic situation domestically,″ Prime Minister Abdul Karim al-Iryani told a news conference.

His comments came as army troops surrounded Suprowicz’s kidnappers in a mountainous area in Khawlan, southeast of the capital, San`a, for the second consecutive day. The ambassador, according to the security officials, called his wife and daughter Thursday night and assured them he was well.

Suprowicz, the first ambassador kidnapped in Yemen, has been living here since 1996.

Yemeni tribesmen often kidnap foreigners, including diplomats, to pressure the government into providing money or better services, such as new roads, schools and hospitals, for their impoverished areas.

About 190 foreigners have been kidnapped since 1990, according to government officials.

The kidnappers have traditionally treated their hostages well and released them unharmed. But four kidnapped tourists were killed in a botched rescue attempt by Yemeni security forces in December 1998.

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