Middle East

Yemen conflict: Oman 'evacuates three Americans'

Buildings in Old City of Sanaa, Yemen (17 November 2015) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Oman's foreign ministry said the Americans were flown to safety from rebel-controlled Sanaa

Three US citizens have been evacuated from Yemen by the Omani air force, Oman's foreign ministry says.

The official ONA news agency said they were flown on Wednesday out of Yemen's capital, Sanaa, which is controlled by the Houthi rebel movement.

The US government had requested Oman's help in finding them, it added.

The ministry gave no details on the Americans' identities, but one Yemeni security official told the Reuters news agency had been held by the rebels.

"The three Americans were detained by the security forces run by the Houthis and were held on suspicion of spying," the official said by telephone from Sanaa.

Earlier this month, the US state department said an American contractor for the United Nations who was detained at Sanaa's airport last month had died.

John Hamen and a colleague - reportedly also American - were held as they arrived on a UN aircraft from Djibouti.

In September, two Americans held hostage for months by the Houthis were freed and flown to safety in Oman, along with a British citizen and three Saudis.

The rebels, who ousted Yemen's government from Sanaa this year, are facing an air and ground campaign by a multinational coalition led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the US.

Oman, which is not part of the coalition, has played an active role in efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict.

The fighting has left at least 5,700 people dead, about half of them civilians, since the end of March, the UN says.