Suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen kidnap 3 foreigners in Yemen

Gunmen suspected of links to Al-Qaeda kidnapped two Finns and one Austrian in Yemen's capital of Sanaa on Friday and drove off with them to an unknown location, security officials told AFP.

One official said the three included an Austrian man and a Finnish man, both students in Arabic, and a Finnish woman who arrived recently in Yemen.

"Al-Qaeda is suspected of being responsible for the kidnapping," the official added.

The official said the two students, who had been studying for months at an Arabic language and Oriental studies centre in Sanaa, and the Finnish tourist were preparing to travel to the southern port of Aden via second city Taez when they were abducted.

A security official said earlier that the three were taken away at gunpoint.

"Four masked gunmen in a vehicle attacked a shop in central Sanaa and abducted three foreign tourists -- a woman and two men," said the official.

The source said the trio were kidnapped from an electronics store.

"An investigation is under way to track them down," he said.

No further information was immediately available.

Hundreds of people have been abducted in Yemen over the past 15 years, many of them by members of the country's powerful tribes who use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the authorities.

Almost all of them have later been freed unharmed.

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