UK oil worker 'kidnapped in Yemen'

Drilling rig03 February 2014, News Wires – British man believed seized in Sanaa by armed gunmen: reports

A British oil worker is reported to have been kidnapped by armed gunmen in the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

An unnamed official in the city told Agence France Presse (AFP) that the man had been abducted in the centre of the city early on Monday morning.

“Gunmen in a car kidnapped the British man at around 9am (0600 GMT) near a grocery store in Hadda,” the official was quoted as saying.

The Hadda district is said to be a heavily-patrolled, up-scale area of the city that is home to a number of international shops and restaurants.

Witnesses said the kidnappers struck the Briton on the head with the butt of a rifle, before driving him away towards an unknown location.

A police source in the city told Reuters the person kidnapped was a British man working for an oil services company.

The British embassy could not immediately confirm the reported abduction.

“We are aware of the news. We still cannot confirm,” an embassy spokesman told AFP.

The reports come just three days after a tribesman in the city kidnapped a German citizen in his 60s, with the Yemeni foreign ministry saying he is being held in a tribal region in the eastern Marib province.

It said he was abducted by a tribesman who is pressing authorities to release his two detained son in exchange for his return.

In another indication of growing unrest in the country, police said Monday that three people were wounded in overnight explosions that rocked Sanaa

A mortar attack and a car bomb explosion went off metres from each other in the city’s diplomatic quarter, close to both the French embassy and the home of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Hundreds of people have been kidnapped in Yemen over the past 15 years, mostly by tribesmen who use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the government.

Nearly all have later been freed unharmed.

Al-Qaeda militants have also seized foreigners in the country, but such incidents are rare.

UK-based global risk analytics firm Maplecroft has meanwhile warned that there is no end in sight over the medium term to the extreme security risks faced by oil & gas companies in Yemen, whose facilities have frequently come under attack from both tribesmen and Al Qaeda since 2011’s uprising.

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