Reward money has climbed to $275,000 for information in the kidnapping of nine foreigners in Yemen — three of whom have been found dead — as troops search for the remaining six hostages, Yemeni officials said.
The Ministry of Interior offered a $250,000 reward, in addition to the $25,000 reward offered by the governor of Saada City — both aimed at information leading to the arrest of the kidnappers — according to the Yemeni Embassy in Washington. Special forces and anti-terrorism teams with helicopters were sweeping the Saada area for the hostages, the embassy said Tuesday. “Furthermore, Ministry of Interior have mobilized a massive police force, which in cooperation with the army, are working around the clock in the area until the perpetrators of this hideous crime are put to justice,” a news release from the embassy said. The bodies of a South Korean teacher and two German nurses, all in their 20s, arrived in Sana’a by helicopter, accompanied by Yemen’s deputy minister of health, according to the release. News of their deaths did not surface until Monday. The nurses worked for a hospital in Saada run by the Dutch charity World Wide Services Foundation, according to Yemen’s state-run SABA news agency. Five Germans — including three children — and a Briton are still missing.
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The group apparently was on a picnic when abducted Friday in Yemen’s Saada province, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. The nine foreigners “ventured outside the city of Saada without the required police escorts due to the heightened security situation in the area,” said Mohammed Albasha, a spokesman for Yemen’s embassy. “This event was a heinous crime and constitutes not only a violation against the peaceful principles of Islam, but also the precepts of humanity,” Albasha said. “Moreover, it does not reflect the good traditions and culture of Yemen.” It is unclear who is behind the kidnapping. Conflicting claims have accused Shiite militants who have fought the government for years; drug cartels; and regional tribes. It is the latest in a string of kidnappings of foreign workers in Yemen this year. All the previous hostages had been released unharmed, including 24 medical workers seized last week by armed tribesmen in Yemen’s Amran province.