Yemen confirms Italian is detained by tribesmen

SANAA Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:14pm EDT

1 of 4. A man walks past the Italian embassy in Sanaa July 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Khaled Abdullah

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SANAA (Reuters) - An Italian embassy security officer who was kidnapped in Yemen on Sunday was seized by tribesmen and is being detained in the oil-producing province of Maarib, Yemen's Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.

The abductors are demanding compensation for the arrest of one of their relatives and the return of land they say they own in the capital Sanaa, a tribal source told Reuters.

The incident highlights continuing instability in Yemen five months after former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh was formally replaced by his deputy under a plan designed to forestall a slide into lawlessness.

Tribesmen often bomb oil and gas pipelines and kidnap foreigners as a way to press demands on authorities. The kidnapees usually are freed unharmed.

On Sunday, disgruntled tribesmen also stormed the Interior Ministry in the capital Sanaa in a protest over jobs.

Yemen's wealthier Gulf Arab neighbors and the United States are concerned the turmoil is being exploited by al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters who already have a foothold in the impoverished state.

The Saudi deputy consul in Aden, Abdallah al-Khalidi, was kidnapped in March by al Qaeda-linked militants who demanded the release of women detainees from Saudi prisons.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghibari; Writing by Isabel Coles; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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