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2 UN staffers kidnapped in Yemen; 1 later freed

March 26, 2014
Associated Press

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Two U.N. staff members were abducted Tuesday in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, and one was later freed, officials said.

The Italian Foreign Ministry in Rome confirmed that an Italian citizen working for the United Nations Development Program had been released but provided no details.

The United Nations confirmed in a statement that two of its staff members were abducted in Sanaa, and one has since been released. The status of the other staffer is being verified, according to the statement.

The U.N. statement provided no further details. A U.N. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the United Nations was seeking information on the U.N. driver kidnapped with the Italian staff member.

The Yemeni Defense ministry said in a statement that troops freed the Italian from his kidnappers in northeastern Marib province. He had been taken there after being abducted in a main street in Sanaa. Marib is about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from Sanaa.

The statement said troops engaged with the kidnappers and are currently tracking them. It was not clear if there are any casualties.

The interior ministry said in a separate statement that it had worked with the military in a joint force to free the Italian. It said it had arrested suspects in Sanaa believed to have cooperated with the kidnappers.

Abductions are frequent in Yemen, an impoverished nation where armed tribesmen and al-Qaeda-linked militants take hostages to swap for prisoners or cash.

Yemen is engaged in a rocky political transition since longtime autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down in 2012 following mass popular protests. Multiple armed groups across the country resist state authority.


Associated Press writers Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations and Colleen Barry in Milan contributed to this report.



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