Yemen tribesmen kidnap Swiss, Kenyan Red Cross staff

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Armed tribesmen kidnapped two expatriate employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross and their interpreter in southern Yemen on Monday, witnesses and militia sources said.

The Swiss and Kenyan ICRC staffers were abducted in the southern city of Jaar, which was held by loyalists of al-Qaeda for 12 months until it was recaptured by the army in June last year, militia commander Hussein al-Wahayshi said.

Gunmen from the same al-Marakisha tribe briefly held two Indian ICRC staff last week.

Witnesses said the kidnappers stopped the group's car and abducted the male Swiss staffer.

A tribal source said the Kenyan and the Yemeni interpreter insisted on staying with their colleague, even though the kidnappers told them they could go.

Their Yemeni driver fled.

The trio have been taken to a mountainous area north of Jaar, in Abyan province, the tribal source said requesting anonymity.

On Wednesday, armed tribesmen briefly held two Indian ICRC employees in Jaar, before pro-government militia interceded for their release.

Gunmen from the same tribe are still holding two Egyptian technicians they seized from a cement factory in Abyan province on Monday of last week.

Hundreds of people have been abducted in Yemen over the past decade and a half, 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.

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