French woman kidnapped in Yemen

A French woman consultant working for a World Bank funded project contracted by the Social Welfare Fund of Yemen was kidnapped in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, the French Foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Houthi fighters stand outside a state security court in Sanaa on 22 February 2015.
Houthi fighters stand outside a state security court in Sanaa on 22 February 2015. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

“We are asking for her quick release and we are trying to locate her,” French President François Hollande said to the press on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had recently urged French nationals to leave Yemen which is experiencing turmoil.

The Shiite Houthi militants have controlled the Yemeni capital since the movement dissolved parliament on 6 February.

A Yemeni security source said the French woman had been kidnapped on Tuesday morning in the centre of Sanaa by unidentified armed men.

According to this source, the woman was taken by armed men while she was in a car with her Yemeni interpreter.

Both were taken to an unknown destination.

France and other Western countries closed their embassies in Yemen early this month. At the time, Paris had advised the hundreds of French nationals living there to leave the country “as soon as possible”.

Since then the Moroccan delegation has been in charge of representing French interests in Yemen, according to a French diplomatic source.

Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled Sanaa last Saturday. He announced in Aden, South Yemen’s former capital, that he was still holding office, saying the measures taken by the Houthis were “null and void”.

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