Hostage freed in Ye­men isn’t Korkie

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

KID­NAPPED South African Pierre Korkie was not among the hostages freed by Ye­meni troops, Gift of the Givers said yes­ter­day.

“We have con­fir­ma­tion from cred­i­ble sources that the hostage freed is not Pierre but an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen who is now in the US Em­bassy,” Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooli­man said in a state­ment.

“Our ef­forts to re­lease Pierre con­tinue. It has been a tough and try­ing year, es­pe­cially for his wife Yolande and her chil­dren, but we are op­ti­mistic for a pos­i­tive out­come.”

Agence France-Presse ear­lier re­ported that Ye­meni troops yes­ter­day freed eight hostages, in­clud­ing a for­eigner, from a group of al-Qaeda mil­i­tants who were killed in a dawn raid. Mil­i­tary of­fi­cials said an Amer­i­can sol­dier and eight oth­ers were freed.

The seven kid­nap­pers were killed in the op­er­a­tion.

Korkie and his wife were kid­napped by the mil­i­tants in Taiz, Ye­men, in May last year. Yolande was re­leased on Jan­uary 10 and re­turned to South Africa on Jan­uary 13. Gift of the Givers helped ne­go­ti­ate her re­lease.

At the time of the kid­nap­ping, Korkie was a teacher in Ye­men, while his wife did re­lief work in hos­pi­tals.

The kid­nap­pers de­manded $3 mil­lion in ex­change for Korkie’s safe re­turn.

The foun­da­tion had tried to make con­tact with al-Qaeda through in­ter­na­tional me­dia and cir­cu­lated an in­ter­view with their of­fice man­ager in Ye­men, Anas al-Ha­mati.

He was forced to leave Ye­men at the end of Jan­uary for his own safety after alQaeda ac­cused him of steal­ing the ran­som money.

Tribal lead­ers in Ye­men then took over the talks with al-Qaeda.

On Fe­bru­ary 25, tribal lead­ers found out that Korkie was still alive but in bad health. Since then, no more in­for­ma­tion was avail­able on his con­di­tion.

Korkie was spot­ted three times, ac­cord­ing to Sooli­man. He was first seen in April in the company of a Sierra Leone hostage be­ing moved from Abyan prov­ince to Al­bay­dah. Korkie was sighted a sec­ond time in May be­tween Al­bay­dah and Marib. In June, he was spot­ted be­tween Marib and Shabwa prov­ince.

HOPES DASHED: South African Pierre Korkie

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