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French Red Cross worker kidnapped in Yemen

A French aid worker with the International Red Cross was kidnapped late Saturday afternoon by armed men around 30 kilometers outside the Red Sea port city of Hudaida.

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Yemeni security forces secure a main road in the southern port of Aden following the seizure of Saudi Arabia's deputy consul by unknown gunmen outside his home in the southern city on March 28, 2012. (-/AFP/Getty Images)

A French official with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been kidnapped in Yemen.

The aid worker, who has not yet been named, was seized late Saturday afternoon by armed men around 30 kilometers outside the Red Sea port city of Hudaida, an ICRC spokeswoman told the Agence France Presse Sunday.

“We haven’t had any contact with his captors. We are very concerned for his health and well-being,” Marie-Servane Desjonqueres said, adding: “We are hoping for his immediate and unconditional release.”

Two Yemeni drivers accompanying the man were also captured, but were released shortly after. The Red Cross office in the capital, Sana’a, said the French official had been working in the northern city of Saada, according to the BBC.

More from GlobalPost: Yemen - where Al Qaeda rules

While it is not yet clear who was behind the abduction, kidnappings of Westerners are not uncommon in Yemen.

Last week Al Qaeda announced it was holding a Saudi diplomat abducted at the end of March, and called for militants held in Saudi Arabian jails to be freed in exchange for his release.

Last month a Swiss woman working as a teacher was also kidnapped by suspected Al Qaeda militants in the Red Sea city of Hodeida, and is reportedly being held in the eastern province of Shabwa.

Militants linked to Al Qaeda have exploited a security vacuum in Yemen’s southern and eastern regions following months of protests against ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

On Friday the Defence Ministry said Yemeni troops had made advances in an offensive against the insurgents near the southern city of Zinjibar, killing 18 militants, Reuters reports

More from GlobalPost: Yemen's president Saleh is out. But real change remains elusive.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/120422/french-red-cross-worker-kidnapped-yemen