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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 December 2005, 14:46 GMT
Yemen captors free German family
Juergen Chrobog
Mr Chrobog is a former ambassador to the US
A former German government minister and his family have been freed by tribesmen who held them captive in Yemen.

Juergen Chrobog, his wife Magda and three children were seized three days ago while visiting the eastern province of Shabwa as tourists.

The kidnappers were demanding that the Yemeni government free five tribesmen jailed on charges, including murder.

"We are safe, thank God," Mrs Chrobog told the Associated Press as they flew to Yemen's southern port of Aden.

Earlier, Germany's Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier confirmed reports from inside Yemen that the family had been released.

"Juergen Chrobog and his family are in safety," he told a news conference.

Their release followed talks led by Yemen's defence minister. It was not known if the hostage-takers' demands had been met.

Bargaining tools

Mr Chrobog, 65, was snatched with his family while travelling by car between the port city of Aden and Shabwa, which lies 480 kilometres (300 miles) east of the capital Sanaa.

He is a former deputy foreign minister and former ambassador to the US, and now chairman of a business foundation linked to car-maker BMW.

This is not the first time tribal factions in Yemen have taken captives to use as bargaining tools.

Two weeks ago, two Austrian tourists were kidnapped, and later freed, by Yemeni tribesmen who had been demanding the release of their relatives from prison.

Last month, two Swiss tourists were seized, and later released.

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