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Armed Men Kidnap German in Yemen

November 29, 2001

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) _ Armed men have kidnapped a German businessman in Yemen, security officials and the German Embassy said Thursday.

Five men abducted the unidentified German at gunpoint from the diplomatic area in the capital San`a late Wednesday and bundled him into a car before speeding toward the southeast part of the city, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

The German was in his car when he was stopped by the armed men, the officials said.

``We are trying everything to solve the situation, and I’m sure that Yemeni authorities are searching for him,″ said embassy spokesman Horst Dopychai. He refused to give further details.

The German was kidnapped close to a Yemeni military official’s house, security officials said. The kidnappers fled under fire from troops guarding the area.

Authorities launched a search for the kidnappers, but their whereabouts and demands were not immediately known.

The kidnapping came as Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh continued a state visit to Germany.

In July, Yemeni tribesmen kidnapped a German diplomat and held him for nearly two months.

Kidnappings of foreigners are common in Yemen, a poor and often lawless country at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Tribesmen from disadvantaged areas take hostages and demand the release of jailed clansmen or other government actions. Most hostages have been treated as guests and released unharmed.

However, four Western tourists were killed in 1998 following a botched rescue attempt by government forces. The victims were among 16 tourists abducted by the militant Aden-Abyan Islamic Army.

The government passed a law in 1999 making abductions punishable by death. Three convicted kidnappers have since been executed.

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