Gunmen kidnap British oil-sector employee in Yemeni capital

SANAA (AFP) - Gunmen kidnapped a British oil-sector employee in the Yemeni capital on Monday, witnesses and an industry official told AFP, the second abduction of a foreigner in Yemen since Friday.

"Gunmen in a car kidnapped the British man at around 9am (6am GMT) near a grocery store in Hada," a tightly-patrolled district in central Sanaa, the official told AFP.

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

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 abduction comes just three days after a tribesman kidnapped in Sanaa 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 - two of them near the French embassy.

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.

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