German envoy escapes Yemen kidnap, bodyguard killed

SANAA (AFP) - Germany's ambassador to Yemen escaped a kidnapping attempt on Sunday in the capital Sanaa during which her bodyguard was killed, a diplomatic source told AFP.

"There was an attempt to kidnap Ambassador Carola Muller-Holtkemper as she came out of a store in Hada," a southern Sanaa district where foreign embassies are located, the source said.

"The ambassador escaped but her bodyguard was killed as he tried to resist the attackers who managed to flee," added the source, who spoke to AFP on the condition of anonymity.

A spokesman for the foreign ministry in Berlin said only that the government could not yet confirm the incident, but was "making intensive efforts to clear up the facts". Medics in Sanaa said the corpse of the bodyguard was taken to the Saudi-German hospital in the capital.

Witnesses said earlier that gunmen in a vehicle opened fire on a German citizen, killing him as he left a shop in Hada. Security forces sealed off the area after the attack, they said.

Diplomatic sources also told AFP that a "foreigner working for a non-governmental organisation" had been kidnapped in northern Sanaa, but no details were immediately available.

Foreigners are frequently attacked or kidnapped in Yemen, home to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula which is viewed by the United States as the network's deadliest franchise. Sunday's incident was the first reported attempt to kidnap an ambassador, however.

AQAP militants are still holding Saudi Arabia's deputy consul in Aden, Abdullah al-Khalidi, whom they seized in March last year. They are demanding the release of female Al-Qaeda-linked prisoners held in Saudi Arabia in return for his release.

The extremists are also holding Mr Nour-Ahmad Nikbakht, identified by Teheran as an administrative staff member of the Iranian embassy in Yemen, abducted on July 21.