Briton missing in Yemen, possibly kidnapped - security source

SANAA Thu Feb 13, 2014 4:33am EST

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SANAA (Reuters) - A British teacher has been reported missing in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, a Yemeni security source said on Thursday, suggesting he may have been kidnapped.

The source told Reuters a woman had reported to a local police station that her husband, a Briton who teaches English at a language center in Sanaa, had not returned home on Wednesday night.

The source said police were investigating and did not rule out the possibility that the man might have been abducted.

A British Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of reports and are making inquiries locally."

Kidnapping of foreigners in Yemen is common. The U.S. ally, with a population of 25 million, is trying to overcome nearly three years of political turmoil, which began when mass protests erupted in 2011 against Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president of 33 years, who has since stepped down.

Most kidnappings end peacefully with the hostages being freed unharmed.

Earlier this month, Yemeni tribesmen contacted journalists to announce they had kidnapped a German man to press the government to free jailed relatives. They said the man was being held in Maarib province, a tribal stronghold in the center of Yemen.

Militants linked to al Qaeda are holding a South African citizen, identified as Pierre Korkie, after last month freeing his wife, who was kidnapped with him in mid-2013.

South Africa said it was sending a top diplomat to negotiate the release of Korkie after the militants threatened to kill him if they did not receive $3 million.

Among its many security problems, Yemen is grappling with a growing threat from one of the most active wings of al Qaeda, which has killed hundreds of people in a series of attacks on state and military facilities over the past two years.

(Reporting by Khaled Abdullah, writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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