Another European national has reportedly been kidnapped in Yemen. A British oil employee is said to have been abducted in the country's capital, Sanaa, just three days after a German citizen was taken.
The man was reported to have been abducted from the capital city's Hadda district on Monday, with news agency Reuters citing witness reports saying that four armed men had forced the Briton out of his car and into a waiting vehicle. While the British embassy has yet to confirm the man's disappearance, an oil sector official told the AFP news agency that "gunmen in a car kidnapped the British man at around 9:00 am (0600 GMT) near a grocery store in Hadda."
Jane Marriott, the British ambassador to Yemen said on Twitter: "Reports of kidnapped British National. No comment at this time but working through."
The Briton's apparent abduction follows that of a German man in his 60s on Friday. The tribesmen who claim to have kidnapped him told journalists on Saturday they were holding him hostage in order to facilitate the release of two relatives they said were being held without charge.
The abduction of foreigners is not rare in Yemen, where kidnappers - largely tribesmen - tend to use them as leverage in disputes with the government. Many are released unharmed. Al Qaida militants have also kidnapped foreigners, and according to AFP are holding both South African and Saudi men, as well as a Yemeni diplomat.
Rocket launchers fired
The Briton's reported kidnapping came just hours after one mortar round hit Yemen's Defense Ministry building and another landed near the French embassy. A third rocket launcher was dismantled, according to Yemen's Supreme Committee. The committee said the launchers were found in Sanhan district, between the villages of Shiaan and Shasan. The area is known to be a stronghold of ousted former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Saleh has been accused of standing in the way of government reforms, with the drafting of a new constitution and an election due some time in 2014. At the close of a 10-month national dialogue in January, however, President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi revealed the fate of the nation would be decided by a special commission that he would head up.
The committee, to feature representatives from across the country, is to decide whether a federal Yemen will be divided into two or six regions. Fighting continues to rage in the northern province of Amran, where Houthi rebels and the Hashid tribe have clashed over the past month.
Hadi has sent Sanaa governor Abdulqader Hilal to Amran to attempt to broker a cease fire. Fighting began after the Houthi rebels attempted to expand their hoped-for autonomous area.
ph/pfd (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)