News24

Ambassador escapes kidnapping

2012-05-13 12:12

Sanaa - Bulgaria's ambassador to Yemen escaped with minor injuries on Saturday after masked gunmen opened fire on his car in the capital and tried to kidnap him, a Western diplomat said.

"He was with his wife when they were attacked. Three armed men tried to kidnap him from his car. When he refused and started to drive away they opened fire on his vehicle. He was wounded in the eye by broken glass," said the diplomat.

The ambassador and his wife escaped by fleeing into a nearby shopping centre, witnesses said.

Yemeni security forces arrived shortly afterwards. The diplomat said the ambassador had not been accompanied by guards.

"We do not know if they were tribesmen who just spotted the diplomatic plates or al-Qaeda militants who had planned to kidnap him for ransom," said the diplomat.

Kidnappings of foreigners and Yemenis are common in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, where hostages are often used by disgruntled tribesmen to press demands on authorities. Hostages are often freed unharmed.

A Saudi diplomat was kidnapped in March by al-Qaeda-linked militants in southern Yemen, and Saudi officials said the group's demands included the release of their comrades held in Saudi Arabia. The diplomat has yet to be released.