Middle East

Yemen France: Fabius urges release of kidnapped woman

Yemeni soldiers on guard outside the French embassy in Sanaa, on 13 February 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Heavy security surrounded the French embassy before its closure, along with several others, in February

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has called for the release of a Frenchwoman kidnapped in Yemen, saying the government has not received any demands from her abductors.

Isabelle Prime and Yemeni interpreter Sherine Makkaoui were seized from their car in the capital Sanaa.

They were taken away by unidentified gunmen, security sources say.

Several countries, including France, have closed their embassies in Sanaa following months of political turmoil.

Foreign citizens have been kidnapped in Yemen in the past, often leading to ransom demands.

Ms Prime, a 30-year-old consultant for a World Bank project in Sanaa, was on her way to work early on Tuesday when the abduction happened.

"We have contacted various tribal leaders to ensure their co-operation for a release of the women," Yassine Makkauoi, an uncle of the missing interpreter, said.

Leaders of the Houthis, the Shia militia which seized power in Sanaa in January, have also been contacted, he added.

Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants have been active in Yemen for some time but the security situation took a turn for the worse after President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi resigned in January when the Houthis took control of the capital.

The political unrest caused France along with other countries to close its diplomatic mission, withdraw staff and call on its nationals to leave the country.

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