SANAA, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Gunmen abducted a Finnish couple
and a Austrian man in the centre of Sanaa on Friday, a security
official told Reuters, just two days after a major overhaul of
the armed forces in a drive to bring stability to the
"People saw a car stop in Tahrir Square, militants snatching
three Westerners and speeding away," the official said.
"The abductors didn't reveal their affiliation or demands,"
Police were searching for the gunmen who abducted the
Westerners, who were all studying Arabic in Yemen, he said.
Kidnappings of Westerners occur sporadically in Yemen,
mostly carried out by Al Qaeda militants and tribesmen.
Lawlessness in the Arabian Peninsula state has alarmed its
neighbour and top world oil exporter Saudi Arabia, as well as
the United States, which increasingly views Yemen as a front
line in its struggle against al Qaeda and its affiliates.
This week's overhaul of the armed forces by President
Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi is widely seen as an effort to curb the
still considerable influence of former President Ali Abdullah
It could also help loosen his family's grip on the military
and implement an internationally-backed plan to restore
Hadi's government is also grappling with the threat of al
Qaeda and a growing secessionist movement in the south.
(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Mahmoud Habboush;
Editing by Sophie Hares)