Kidnapped Norwegian called home

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A 34-year-old Norwegian man who was kidnapped in Yemen over the weekend was said to be in relatively good shape and was even allowed to call home to his father in Norway. Authorities in Yemen were reportedly negotiating his release, while Norwegian officials were following the situation closely.

Newspaper Bergens Tidende reported that the Norwegian, who’s been working for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Yemen, was kidnapped on a street in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital. It remained unclear whether his kidnappers snatched him at random, or whether they knew he was working for the UN.

He’s believed to be held by a tribe east of Sanaa that’s seeking release of its own prisoners being held by authorities in Yemen. Kidnapping is viewed as an ongoing problem in Yemen, often as a means of furthering tribal goals through prisoner exchange.

“The kidnapping occurred in an area of Sanaa we thought was safe,” researcher Stig Jarle Hansen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). He’s been working in Yemen and had planned to meet with the 34-year-old this week.

The victim is originally from Bergen but his name wasn’t immediately released. His father, however, told Bergens Tidende that his son was calm and in good shape, given the circumstances. “He said we mustn’t over-dramatize this,” the father said.

Officials at Norway’s foreign ministry, however, “are taking the case very seriously,” according to ministry spokesman Frode O Andersen. He declined detailed comment, but said Norwegian authorities were ready to help the UN if necessary and were in close dialogue with UN officials in charge of the case.

On Monday, NRK reported that authorities in Yemen were involved as well and that according to the Yemen Post, a large number of negotiators were on their way to the Mareb region where the Norwegian was allegedly being held. UNDP officials were also involved in the negotiations.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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