Two American tourists kidnapped by tribesmen in Yemen


Two American tourists have been kidnapped by armed tribesmen near Yemen's capital, Sanaa, officials say.

Their Yemeni driver, who was also seized, later reportedly made a call to the AFP news agency, saying the attackers were demanding the release of a jailed fellow tribesman.

The US said the kidnapping of the US nationals - a man and a woman - was "not believed to be terrorism related".

Yemen's tribes frequently kidnap people to gain leverage in rows with Sanaa.

'Treated well'

The Americans were seized by armed men in the Bani Mansour district 70km (45 miles) west of the capital, their driver told AFP.

The driver, who identified himself as Ali al-Arashi, said the kidnappers were "calling for the release of a fellow tribesman held by authorities in Sanaa".

He added that the Americans - whose names were not immediately known - were being treated well "in accordance with tribal hospitality".

Some reports suggested that the dispute was land related.

The US embassy in Sanaa said it was working with Yemeni officials to resolve the situation.

In Washington, state department Philip Crowley said that the kidnapping was apparently not an act of terrorism.

"There has been unfortunately a bit of a side business in what are called 'tourist kidnappings' where, for whatever reason, a certain tribe has a particular grievance with the [Yemeni] government and uses the presence of foreigners for leverage," he said.

More than 200 foreigners have been kidnapped in recent years; most are released unharmed.

Two Chinese oil workers were freed this month after being kidnapped in the south-east of the country.

In another region, however, a German married couple, their infant son and a British man are still missing after being kidnapped almost a year ago.

Last week the family's two young daughters were located in a disputed border region by the Saudi Arabian armed forces.

More on this story