Sanaa: Yemeni tribesmen freed two American tourists and their driver on Tuesday, a day after they were kidnapped near a popular tourist site in the Arabian peninsula country, a mediator said.
The release was confirmed by the United States, and a Yemeni lawmaker told AFP they were handed over to the US embassy in Sanaa later on Tuesday.
Armed tribesmen snatched the Americans and their Yemeni driver on Monday near the village of Hajara, which is famed for its historic mountaintop buildings, in a region 70 kilometres (45 miles) west of the Yemeni capital.
The kidnappers seized the couple in the hope of exchanging them for a jailed fellow tribesman, Hamid Abdullah Shirdah, who has been held in Sanaa`s central prison for three years.
It was not clear whether the release was a result of any deal.
A Yemeni lawmaker who played a part in securing the Americans` release told AFP that they were in "good health."
"The release of the two Americans was due to pressures from Yemeni security authorities and after dignitaries of the tribe to which the kidnappers belong denounced the kidnap and ordered the release of the hostages," MP Mohammed Abdullah al-Qadi said by telephone.
Once freed, mediators handed them over to Yemen`s interior ministry from which they were picked up and driven away by two US diplomats, according to an AFP correspondent at the heavily guarded ministry.
This was confirmed by Qadi, who said the Americans were "expected to leave Yemen and head to Dubai" within the next two days.
The United States confirmed the release of its two citizens, adding that US officials had been in contact with one of them via telephone text message.
"We can confirm that the two US citizens ... have been released. We have not seen them at this point," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters in Washington.
"We are in touch with one of the US citizens by text message," he said, adding that the American confirmed that "they are safe."
After kidnapping the two, the abductors from the Al-Hima tribe drove them to Hamra village, a man who identified himself as the Yemeni driver, Ali al-Arashi, told reporters when reached on his mobile telephone.