Gunmen abduct Iran embassy employee in Yemen: police sources

SANAA Sun Jul 21, 2013 6:50am EDT

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SANAA (Reuters) - Armed men seized an employee of the Iranian embassy in Yemen's capital Sanaa on Sunday, police sources said, the latest in a series of abductions of foreigners in the lawless Arab country.

The Iranian man was travelling through the diplomatic quarter in southern Sanaa when gunmen blocked the road, forced him to get out of his vehicle and took him to an unknown location, the sources told Reuters.

It was not immediately clear who carried out the kidnapping, they added.

Yemen's government is grappling with a host of challenges, including a separatist movement in the south and an Islamist insurgency, as it tries to restore authority lost during mass protests in 2011 that overthrew veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Disgruntled tribesmen also often take hostages to press the government to free jailed relatives or improve public services.

A Saudi diplomat based in Yemen's southern port city of Aden has been held hostage by Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda since March, 2012.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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