Yemeni tribesmen holding five Italian tourists hostage are threatening to kill them if government forces attack their remote hideout.Rome has appointed an experienced negotiator to lead talks with the gunmen. The Italians, kidnapped on New Years day, were the fourth group of tourists to be abducted in Yemen in less than two months.
The Italian embassy in Sanaa is working with Yemeni authorities to try to secure the release of the hostages, who are being held in the region of Sirwa.Reports say the tribesmen released some of the captives overnight – three women – but they returned to the hideout when they realised their two male companions had not been freed.
The kidnapping of the Italians came only hours after a former German government minister and his family were released unharmed after being held hostage for three days. Tribesmen have carried out scores of abductions in the past, often demanding better living conditions or the release of jailed relatives.