Gunmen kidnap two foreign tourists in Yemen: Security

SANAA (AFP) - Gunmen kidnapped two foreign tourists believed to be South Africans from the central Yemeni city of Taiz on Monday, a security official said.

The captives, a man and a woman, were seized while they were outside a hotel in the eastern part of the city, the official said, requesting anonymity.

The unidentified kidnappers took their captives to an unknown destination, the official said.

Although kidnappings of foreigners in Yemen are frequent, Taiz - one of the country's major cities - has not been the scene of hostage-taking.

Hundreds of people have been abducted in Yemen over the past 15 years, almost all of who have been freed unharmed.

Most kidnappings of foreigners are carried out by members of Yemen's powerful tribes who use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the central government.

Earlier this month, tribesmen in south Yemen freed three employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross, including a Swiss citizen and a Kenyan along with two Egyptian hostages.

The men who were held for few days, were released following tribal mediations.