A kidnapping in Yemen ended quickly after it began Tuesday, when Yemeni security forces tracked the kidnappers to a house about 100 miles outside of Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, and freed the two hostages in a raid. There were reports of shots fired, but no word on whether the kidnappers were wounded, or if the Yemeni troops took any casualties.
According to witnesses at the scene of the raid, when the gunfire ceased, the Yemeni troops negotiated for the hostages’ freedom.
The two kidnap victims worked for the United Nations in Yemen, according to reports — though details are still sketchy. The Reuters news agency cited police describing the hostages as an Italian U.N. diplomat and his wife. However, a U.N. official told The Washington Post that the Italian U.N. employee was kidnapped along with his driver.
The Italian Foreign Ministry did confirm that an Italian national in Yemen had been rescued, but offered no further information.
The Yemeni Interior Ministry didn’t offer a whole lot more, saying only that the hostage situation “has ended after Yemeni forces freed an Italian national. The kidnappers were detained by the authorities.”
A ministry official described the other hostage as Yemeni-Italian.
The kidnapping happened in Hadda, considered one of the safest areas of the Yemen capital. The two hostages were apparently abducted out of their car at gunpoint.
There was also no information made available about the identities and possible affiliations of the kidnappers. The situation in Yemen has been unstable since then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh bowed to a popular uprising in 2012 and resigned.
Since then, kidnappers of foreigners have been common. But while Yemen is home base to a dangerous Al Qaeda affiliate, many of the kidnappings are carried out simply for money.
Local tribesmen also use kidnapping of Westerners as leverage to extract concessions from the Yemen government, which is aligned with the United States and other Western nations as it struggles with the transition from the old regime.
In February alone, Czech, British and German nationals were victims of kidnapping in Yemen.