Yemen rebels 'release six foreign detainees'

SANAA • Shi'ite rebels in Yemen released three Americans, two Saudis and a Briton yesterday after detaining them for around six months, a rebel official and a security source said.

The six were expected to leave the country on board an Omani plane carrying Houthi rebel officials to Muscat for talks with the United Nations envoy to Yemen, the sources said.

Houthi officials provided no information on the identities of the freed foreigners, or why they were being held.

Speaking to reporters at Sanaa airport, Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam did not confirm the release of the foreigners, but said: "We hope, and it is possible, that they will be handed over today."

American journalist Casey Coombs, believed to have been held by the rebels, was handed over to Oman in early June, along with a Singaporean.

A Saudi-led coalition has conducted air strikes on rebel positions across Yemen since March, seeking to reinstate exiled president Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

Washington has provided intelligence and logistical support for the campaign, but has also called for a political solution to the conflict.

Yesterday, Saudi-led air strikes on a security complex in central Yemen - controlled by Shi'ite rebels - killed 11 people, some of whom were prisoners, said witnesses and medics.

The rebels still control Sanaa, a year after they overran it with support from renegade troops still loyal to Mr Hadi's ousted predecessor, Mr Ali Abdullah Saleh.

But they have lost territory in the south since late July, when the coalition began deploying ground troops.

The UN says nearly 4,900 people have been killed in Yemen since late March.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2015, with the headline 'Yemen rebels 'release six foreign detainees''. Print Edition | Subscribe