Sana’a: Armed Yemeni tribesmen kidnapped two American tourists and their driver on Monday in a bid to secure the release of a jailed tribesman, sources said as the United States ruled out terrorism.
The couple were snatched near the village of Hajara, which is famed for its historic mountaintop buildings, in a region 70 kilometres (45 miles) west of the Yemeni capital, a tribal source said.
From there, the armed men belonging to the Al-Hima tribe drove them to Hamra village, a man who identified himself as the captured Yemeni driver, Ali al-Arashi, said when reached on his mobile telephone.
The kidnappers were "calling for the release of a fellow tribesman held by authorities in Sana’a," Arashi said, adding the American pair was being treated well "in accordance with tribal hospitality”.
The US embassy confirmed the abduction of two American citizens, which a State Department spokesman in Washington said was "not believed to be terrorism related”.
"We can confirm that two American citizens were kidnapped in Yemen today," the spokesman said on Monday.
"The regional security office and the consulate are working together with Yemeni authorities to release them," he added without giving further details.
US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said later that the kidnappings were "not believed to be terrorism related”.
Yemen`s powerful tribes often kidnap foreigners for use as bargaining chips in disputes with the central government. Of about 200 foreigners seized in Yemen over the past decade, almost all have been released unharmed.
"We have every reason to believe this is one of those cases," Crowley said.