SANAA (AFP) – Nine foreigners, including women and children, have been kidnapped in a volatile mountainous area of northern Yemen, an official said on Sunday amid conflicting reports over their fate.Seven Germans, a British engineer and a South Korean woman teacher were seized by Shiite rebels in the Saada region, a local official cited on the defence ministry website said, but a rebel spokesman denied any involvementThe group -- including a German couple, three children and two women nurses -- belong to an international relief group that has been working at a hospital in Saada for 35 years, the official said.There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the kidnapping -- the latest in a string of abductions of foreigners in one of the poorest countries in the world -- and it was not immediately clear when it took place.Seoul confirmed that a South Korean woman, identified by her family name Eom, 34, had been missing since Thursday evening in Yemen when she joined members of the relief group for a walk."It is presumed that a South Korean woman has been kidnapped by a local armed group. That is the government's official position for now," a foreign ministry official in Seoul told the South Korean newswire Yonhap.
Local sources said the relief group was a Christian Baptist organisation. It also has a medical team in the hospital of Jebla, south of Sanaa, where an Islamist militant killed three American doctors in December 2002.In Berlin, a foreign ministry spokesman declined to confirm the kidnapping of its nationals, saying only that the German embassy in Sanaa was in "close contact" with Yemeni authorities.The British and German embassies "consider the group missing, as there has not been any contact with them since Friday evening, while reports of their kidnapping are yet to be confirmed," a diplomat in Sanaa told AFP.The Yemeni official said the group was taken hostage by members of the Huthi Zaidi rebel group which have been fighting the government since 2004.But a rebel spokesman dismissed the accusation as "baseless.""It is a government conspiracy to tarnish the Huthis' reputation ... It has never happened that a member of the Huthi followers committed such a shameful act.He said the kidnapping took place in an area controlled by security forces in the town of Saada, which is the centre of the rugged mountainous region.In another incident, gunmen took hostage 28 foreign medical staff members -- including Arabs -- from a hospital in Amran, north of Sanaa on Thursday and released them on Friday following tribal mediation, according to media reports.Huthi rebels were also held responsible for that kidnapping."These staged kidnappings that we hear about these days are mere farces that would not fool anyone," said a statement issued later by the Huthi media office...more..http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090614/wl_mideast_afp/yemenkidnapgermanybritainskorea
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