Yemen: 9 Foreigners Kidnapped by Shiite Rebels

Yemen accused a Shiite rebel group Sunday of kidnapping nine foreigners in the country's rugged north.

The Interior Ministry said the foreigners were kidnapped Friday by a rebel group led by Abdel Malak al-Hawthi while on a picnic in northern Sada province.

The nine foreigners reportedly were mostly women and children, including a Briton, seven Germans and a female South Korean teacher.

The state news agency Saba said the foreigners worked in a hospital in Sada.

Tribesmen in Yemen frequently take foreigners hostage to pressure the government on a range of demands and generally release them unharmed.

Tribesmen on Friday freed 24 local and foreign medics working at a Saudi-funded hospital in Sada less than 24 hours after their kidnapping, which was not carried out by the al-Hawthi group.

Thousands of people have been killed in Saada since a Shiite rebellion erupted there in June 2004. The rebels say the government is corrupt and too closely allied with the West. The government has charged al-Hawthi with sedition, forming an illegal armed group and inciting anti-American sentiment.

The group negotiated a fragile cease-fire with the government last year, but serious tension remains.

Meanwhile, a Yemen security source said Sunday that a man described as the lead financer of Al Qaeda in Yemen and Saudi Arabia had been arrested.

Reuters reported the source said Hassan Hussein Alwan, a Saudi national, was seized two days ago in Marib province in the east of Yemen.

Click here to read more on this story from the Times of London.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.