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Swiss teacher kidnapped in Yemen

By Hakim Almasmari, for CNN
updated 8:59 AM EDT, Fri March 16, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The woman may have been taken to the south-central province of Shabwa
  • Swiss citizens have been urged not to travel to Yemen
  • Yemen has been the scene of political turbulence
  • The kidnapping took place in Hodeida on the Red Sea coast

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Tribesmen demanding the release of prisoners kidnapped a female Swiss teacher in Yemen, two Yemeni Interior Ministry officials told CNN on Friday.

The abduction took place Thursday in Hodeida on the Red Sea coast of the impoverished and restive Arab nation. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is an al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, but the ministry denied the kidnappers have links with the terror network.

Imprisoned tribesmen are being held in the Hodeida Central Prison for disturbing travelers and creating roadblocks.

Officials said people belonging to the Biahan tribe of Shabwa province are demanding the release of two prisoners. The officials told CNN the teacher was most likely taken to Shabwa, a south-central province.

A Swiss government crisis team has begun working on getting the woman freed, the Swiss Foreign Office said.

Since the beginning of last year, the Swiss government asked its citizens not to travel to Yemen and since June has asked citizens to leave the country at times.

Yemen has been beset by political turbulence since the beginning of last year. Protests led to the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh from office, and the government has battled Islamic militants.

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