By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, April 30, 2012- Tribal sources reported that the Yemeni government paid a ransom of YR 259 million for Ansar al-Sharea militants to free kidnapped soldiers in Yemen's southern province of Abyan, where swaths of towns are controlled by the militant group, Ansar al-Sharia, an offshoot of al-Qaeda.
"Yemeni government paid 3 million for each soldier as well as 40 million others for the negotiation committee which formed from Tribal Sheikhs to negotiate with the militants to free about 73 Yemeni soldiers," a tribal figure confirmed.
Ansar al-Sharea, an Islamic group linked to al-Qaeda released on Saturday about 73 soldiers captured early this month by the militants.
The group released the hostages for in response to the appeals of the soldiers' families and the tribal mediation.
The militants invited on Friday reporters, mediators, human rights activists and the soldiers' relatives to the city of Jaar to hand the captives over to their families.
In a statement posted on the Internet, the group said that al-Woheshi ordered to release 73 soldiers who were captured since last March as militants of the organization attacked positions of the military around Zinjibar in Abyan.
In the statement the group for the first time revealed that al-Woheshi is the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), saying that Abu Baseer al- Woheshi is the leader of the group.
The soldiers were freed in the city of Jaar in the southern province of Abyan in a ceremony attended by top leaders of the terror network in Yemen, including military leader Qasim al-Rimi, the statement said. The soldiers left in trucks and private cars for the nearby port city of Aden.
Al-Qaeda militants had threatened to behead the captured soldiers last Monday, but it later expressed its willingness to release them without any harms.
Meanwhile, al-Qaeda still capture a Saudi diplomat, a Swiss teacher and a French aid worker after it abducted the former in the port city of Aden ant the two later from Hodieda in separate times.
Though some Yemeni analysts said that Ansar Al-Sharea is a mixture of Al-Qaeda, and other groups and factions, Yemeni authorities and officials insisted that the group is the same of Al-Qaeda.
Lately, al-Qaeda militants have suffered severe blows as the military along with local tribesmen raided attacks against its hideouts in some towns of Abyan, leaving dozens of its militants killed and wounded.