German diplomat 'injured in Yemen kidnapping attempt'

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Map of Yemen

A German diplomat has been injured in a suspected kidnapping attempt in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, security officials say.

Gunmen tried to force a vehicle carrying the diplomat and a colleague to stop in the southern district of Hadda, home to many embassies.

When the diplomats refused and fled from the scene, the gunmen opened fire.

The identity of the assailants was not known, but kidnappings of foreigners by armed tribesmen and militants linked to al-Qaeda are common in Yemen.

The German foreign ministry confirmed that a 4x4 vehicle belonging to its embassy in Sanaa had come under fire.

"The passengers are currently safe," a spokesman told the AFP news agency, declining to say whether anyone was injured.

"The ministry of foreign affairs and the embassy in Sanaa are in close contact with concerned Yemeni authorities to attempt to solve the matter diligently," he added.

Last month, two UN employees were seized in Hadda, but freed by security forces hours later. In February, a Czech doctor, a German and two other Europeans were also seized.

Most people kidnapped by tribesmen are freed unharmed after short periods of captivity, but those held by militants face a more uncertain fate.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been holding a South African teacher since May 2013. The jihadist group is also still holding a Saudi deputy consul kidnapped in 2012.

An Iranian embassy employee also remains in captivity after being abducted by suspected al-Qaeda militants last July.