Tribes, militia urged to help free French, Yemeni abductees

25th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

Relatives of a Yemeni woman kidnapped with a French female development worker in Sanaa said Wednesday they had sought help from tribal leaders and Shiite militiamen to secure their release.

Unidentified gunmen seized 30-year-old Isabelle Prime -- a consultant working on a World Bank-funded project -- and her interpreter Sherine Makkaoui from a car in the capital on Tuesday.

"We contacted various tribal leaders in Sanaa and in the provinces of Jawf and Marib to ensure their cooperation for the release of the two women," Yassine Makkaoui, the uncle of the Yemeni abductee, told AFP.

"We have also contacted, for the same reason, the interior ministry and the Huthis," he added, referring to the Shiite militia that has seized power in the capital.

"The kidnapping took place in broad daylight in the centre of Sanaa where the Huthis are responsible for maintaining order," Makkaoui said.

"They control both the ministries of defence and interior, and we hold them responsible" for the fate of the two women, he added.

Prime and her Yemeni colleague were seized after their car was stopped by men dressed as police officers, according to the Frenchwoman's employer Ayala Consulting.

"There has been some contact" with the kidnappers, Francisco Ayala, president of the consulting firm based in Miami and Ecuador, told AFP on Tuesday.

Yemen has descended into chaos since the Huthis swept into Sanaa last year from their northern stronghold.

The Huthis moved to take power this month after President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and Prime Minister Khalid Bahah tendered their resignations.

Hadi retracted his resignation Tuesday after escaping house arrest in Sanaa, staking a claim to lead the country out of crisis.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday that efforts were under way to try to secure the release of Prime. He called on all remaining French nationals to leave Yemen.

© 2015 AFP

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