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Abducted Finns, Austrian held by Qaeda-linked Yemen tribe

By AFP - Jan 17,2013 - Last updated at Jan 17,2013

SANAA — Two Finns and an Austrian kidnapped in Yemen nearly a month ago are being held by Al Qaeda-linked tribesmen in the network’s eastern stronghold of Marib, security officials told AFP on Thursday.

The trio were abducted in Sanaa on December 21 by tribesmen with grievances over land seized from them in the capital and were initially held in Khawlan, a mountainous area 80 kilometres southeast of Sanaa.

On Thursday, security officials said the kidnappers “are tribesmen linked to Al Qaeda” who have taken the hostages to Marib province.

The kidnappers have also widened their demands, calling for authorities to “free Al Qaeda leaders jailed in Sanaa and a ransom to release their hostages,” one tribal source said.

On Wednesday, Interior Minister Abdelqader Qahtan received envoy Jarno Syrjala from Finland, which has no diplomatic representation in Yemen.

The minister assured Syrjala that “efforts are ongoing to free the hostages without endangering their lives”, according to state news agency Saba.

The Austrian man and a Finnish man and woman were abducted as they prepared to travel to the southern port of Aden via second city Taez.

The two men were learning Arabic in Sanaa, and the woman had recently arrived on a visit.

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