Swiss woman kidnapped in Yemen: interior ministry

Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:00am EDT
 

SANAA (Reuters) - Armed tribesmen have kidnapped a Swiss woman in western Yemen and are demanding the Yemeni government free their jailed relatives in return for her release, an Interior Ministry official said in Sanaa on Friday.

He said the teacher was kidnapped on Wednesday in the Red Sea city of Hudaida as she was leaving the privately-owned language institute where she taught English.

"The kidnappers are demanding their fellow tribesmen be released (from police custody) in return for her release," the official told Reuters.

He said the kidnappers had taken her back to their hometown in the southern province of Shabwa and that negotiations for her release between the Yemeni government and the tribesmen were underway.

Kidnappings of foreigners and Yemenis are common in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state. Many are freed unharmed.

The Swiss foreign ministry said it was informed on Thursday evening that a Swiss woman had been taken hostage in the town of Hudaida and a crisis team had started working on the case.

Swiss officials are already in contact with the relevant authorities in Yemen, the ministry said.

"The foreign ministry will do everything it can to ensure the release of the hostage," it said in a statement, adding that the ministry had called on all Swiss nationals to leave Yemen since last June.

The kidnapping comes after a Swiss couple who were taken hostage by the Pakistani Taliban last July escaped on Thursday.

(Reporting By Mohammed Ghobari, writing by Nour Merza; Editing by Ben Harding)