Swiss woman kidnapped in Yemen


Followers of Ansar al-Sharia, an Al-Qaeda affiliate group in Yemen, are seen in the town of Jaar in southern Abyan province on Jan 25.



A Swiss woman has been kidnapped by suspected Al Qaeda militants in Yemen, reports say.

A security official told the Agence France Presse on Friday that the woman, a teacher, had been abducted on Wednesday by armed men in the Red Sea city of Hodeida on Yemen’s western coast, and is currently being held in the southern province of Shabwa.

“According to our information, Al Qaeda is responsible for the abduction,” the official said, adding that the kidnappers are “demanding the release of two Al Qaeda militants detained in Hodeida.”

Negotiations between the Yemeni government and the militants to free the woman are underway, Reuters reports.

The Swiss Foreign Office said a Swiss government crisis team has also begun working on securing the woman’s release, according to CNN. The government has advised Swiss citizens to avoid travel to Yemen since last year, and since June has requested that any Swiss nationals leave the country.

More from GlobalPost: Yemen's youth lament unfinished revolution

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is known to maintain bases in south and south-eastern Yemen, battling off government forces and trying to evade airstrikes by unmanned US drones.

There are also concerns that militants linked to AQAP have exploited a security vacuum in Yemen’s southern and eastern regions following months of protests against ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

According to the BBC, the kidnapping of foreigners is relatively common in Yemen, although most abductions tend to be resolved peacefully, with the kidnappers demanding services from the government in exchange for the prisoners’ release. 

More from GlobalPost: Yemen's president Saleh is out, but real change remains elusive