Yemen says search on for abducted Finns, Austrian

Yemen said on Sunday its security forces were still searching for two Finns and an Austrian whose whereabouts remain unknown since they were kidnapped in Sanaa.

Security services are "carrying out vast search and investigation operations to locate the kidnapped" foreigners, abducted on Friday in Sanaa, official news agency Saba quoted Interior Minister Abdelqader Qahtan as saying as he received an envoy from Finland.

The minister assured the envoy that Yemeni forces will take all steps to ensure the safety of the hostages and secure their quick release.

A security official told AFP that the hostages, kidnapped by gunmen suspected of links to Al-Qaeda, were probably still in Sanaa.

Another official had said Friday that Al-Qaeda had threatened to kidnap foreigners and to stage bank hold-ups if the authorities fail to release members of an imprisoned network.

The three hostages -- an Austrian man, a Finish man and a Finish woman -- were abducted when they were preparing to travel to the southern port of Aden via second city of Taez.

The two men were learning Arabic in Sanaa, while the woman had arrived recently in Yemen.

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.

But Al-Qaeda is also held responsible for abductions in Yemen, including that of a Saudi diplomat, Abdallah al-Khalidi, who remains in the hands of the extremist network since his kidnapping on March 28 in Aden.

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