UN: 2 kidnapped staffers released in Yemen

SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- Two U.N. staff members who were abducted in Yemen on Tuesday have been freed, authorities said.

The Italian Foreign Ministry in Rome confirmed that an Italian citizen working for the United Nations Development Program had been released but provided no details.

The U.N. confirmed in a statement that two of its staff members were abducted and later released in the capital of Sanaa. The statement provided no further details but thanked "efforts made by the Yemeni authorities in obtaining their release."

The Yemeni Defense ministry said in a statement that troops freed the Italian from his kidnappers in northeastern Marib province. He had been taken there after being abducted in a main street in Sanaa. Marib is about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from Sanaa.

The statement said troops engaged with the kidnappers and were tracking them. It was not clear if there were any casualties.

The interior ministry said in a separate statement that it had worked with the military in a joint force to free the Italian. It said it had arrested suspects in Sanaa believed to have cooperated with the kidnappers.

A U.N. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said a U.N. driver was kidnapped with the Italian staff member.

Abductions are frequent in Yemen, an impoverished nation where armed tribesmen and al-Qaeda-linked militants take hostages to swap for prisoners or cash.

Yemen is engaged in a rocky political transition since longtime autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down in 2012 following mass popular protests. Multiple armed groups across the country resist state authority.

____

Associated Press writers Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations and Colleen Barry in Milan contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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