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Kidnapping victim released in Yemen

Norway’s Foreign Ministry confirmed Friday morning that a Norwegian man who’s been working for the United Nations in Yemen has been set free by a band of local kidnappers. The 34-year-old Norwegian had been held captive for nearly two weeks.

Gert Danielsen, who worked for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), was snatched from a street in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, on January 15. The foreign ministry said he was held by a tribe in Marib province.

Danielsen was said to be in good shape and at a safe location in Sanaa. Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said he was “pleased and relieved” that the kidnapped Norwegian had been set free and was uninjured.

“I would like to thank the Yemeni authorities for the determination they have shown in negotiating the Norwegian’s release,” Støre said in a prepared statement. “I also greatly appreciate the close cooperation we have had with the UN, both in Sanaa and in New York.”

Danielsen’s kidnapping was the latest in a series of such incidents in Yemen, where kidnapping is used as a means of negotiation in furthering various local tribal incidents. VG Nett reported his abductors had demanded release of a tribe member  jailed in Sanaa on charges of killing four Yemeni soldiers in recent months.

It was unclear whether the kidnappers’ demands had been met, and negotiations are said to have been difficult. NRK, citing the Yemeni newspaper Mareb Press, reported that the negotiations were led by Arada Sheikh Sultan al-Araba of the local Abida tribe, with both Yemen’s deputy prime minister and defense minister involved in efforts to release Danielsen. Other tribes were identified as being behind the kidnapping.

Danielsen was reportedly well-treated by his kidnappers and even had been allowed to call home to Norway and speak to his father in the Bergen area. Danielsen himself is registered with a permanent address in Oslo, reported VG Nett.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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