Tunisian woman working for Red Cross in Yemen kidnapped in capital: Local officials

Yemenis walk in front of historic buildings in the old city of Sana’a.
Yemenis walk in front of historic buildings in the old city of Sana’a.EPA

DUBAI (REUTERS) - Unidentified gunmen kidnapped a Tunisian woman working for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Yemen as she was leaving home for work in the capital Sanaa on Tuesday, the ICRC and local officials said.

They identified the woman as Nouran Hawas and said she was in charge of an ICRC humanitarian protection programme in the Swiss-based humanitarian agency's Sanaa office.

Rima Kamal, the ICRC's Yemen spokeswoman, said the gunmen kidnapped Hawas and a Yemeni man when they intercepted their ICRC vehicle in the morning.

The man was released after several hours but Hawas was still being held.

"At this point we don't know who is behind the abduction, what are the motives, but we are trying to appeal to those (responsible) to release our colleague," Kamal told Reuters.

"This incident comes on top of many security incidents we have had, and it is deplorable," she said, adding that the identity of the kidnappers was not known.

On Sept 2, two ICRC employees were shot dead in the northern province of Amran by an unknown attacker.

The two were Yemeni nationals and were returning from an aid project in the far northern province of Saada, an ICRC official said then.

And on Aug 25, gunmen raided the ICRC office in the Yemeni port city of Aden, forcing the agency to temporarily suspend its activities there.

Sanaa is controlled by the Houthi militia, an Iran-allied group which seized control of much of the Arabian Peninsula country in a series of military operations that began in September last year.

The capture of Sanaa provoked armed intervention in March by a Saudi-led Arab alliance, which has been waging an air strike campaign against the Houthis and allied soldiers loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.