A French woman was kidnapped along with a local Yemeni on Tuesday morning in the center of Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, according to the French foreign ministry.
A statement from the ministry confirmed the kidnapping and asked "all our compatriots to leave the country as fast as possible," according to Al Jazeera. The ministry was doing everything it could to locate the woman and free her, the AP reported.
SABA, the Yemeni state news agency, said the woman worked at the oil and gas company Total E&P Yemen and was abducted by a group of gunmen in the middle of Sanaa and taken by car to an unknown destination, according to a security source. The agency added that the cars used by the kidnappers were being tracked by security points in various locations in the capital. The Yemeni who accompanied the Frenchwoman has been described as a driver, guide and interpreter.
France recently shuttered its embassy in Yemen, as did the United States and Britain, after the U.S.-backed government of Yemen fell to Houthi rebels. Fiercely anti-American and against U.S. involvement in Yemen, the rebels seized control of key government buildings in Sanaa, which they had first entered in September . In early February, the rebels dissolved parliament.
A number of kidnappings have occurred in Yemen in recent years. In January, gunmen abducted the chief of staff to former Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, along with two of the chief of staff’s bodyguards. Houthi rebels later took responsibility for the kidnapping.
In March 2014, two United Nations workers were kidnapped by gunmen in Sanaa. The previous month, a Czech, Brit and German were also taken hostage. In 2013, a Dutch couple was kidnapped, although they were freed after about six months. According to the BBC in 2013, more than 200 foreigners had been kidnapped in Yemen over the previous 15 years, with the majority have been released.