French woman kidnapped in Yemen's capital

Updated: 2015-02-24 21:01


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SANAA - A French woman was kidnapped along with her bodyguard in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa on Tuesday, an interior ministry official told Xinhua.

The French woman is believed to be working for the French oil company TOTAL, the official said.

"Gunmen driving two cars intercepted the car of the French woman in Hadda district near the office of the TOTAL company in Sanaa and forced her and her Yemeni bodyguard to get into one of their cars and fled the area," the official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Searching operations are underway, he said, adding that the identities of the gunmen are unknown.

The security situation in the Arab country worsened after the Shiite Houthi group took over control of Sanaa last September after deadly clashes with government forces.

More than 10 countries, including France, have announced the closure of their diplomatic missions in Sanaa since early this month and evacuated their diplomatic staff due to the security concerns. They also demand the immediate departure of their citizens from Yemen.

Yemen has seen persistent unrest since 2011 when mass protests forced former President Ali Abdullash Saleh to step down, which created power vacuum that benefits the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most active terrorist group in the Middle East.

Foreigners, especially the people from the Western countries, are frequently kidnapped by al-Qaida militants and tribesmen in Yemen. Most of the hostages were released unharmed after ransoms were paid.

However, on Dec. 6, 2014, two hostages, a U.S. national and a South African national, were killed by the AQAP during a rescue operation by the Yemeni and U.S. forces in Yemen's southern province of Shabwa.