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Published: Tuesday April 29, 2014 MYT 4:45:02 AM
Updated: Tuesday April 29, 2014 MYT 4:46:12 AM

German diplomat injured during kidnapping attempt in Yemen

SANAA (Reuters) - A German diplomat was injured during an apparent kidnapping attempt by unidentified gunmen in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Monday, embassy and police sources said.

They said the diplomat, identified as a political attache, managed to escape the gunmen who tried to block a road near the German embassy with a four-wheel-drive vehicle without license plates.

"One of the diplomats was injured when gunmen opened fire at his car in an apparent kidnapping attempt," the embassy source said without giving any further details.

One witness told Reuters the diplomat's car did not stop when the vehicle tried to block the road and escaped despite heavy shooting. The diplomat was hit in the leg but his injury was light, the sources said.

Kidnapping of foreigners in Yemen is common. The U.S. ally is trying to overcome nearly three years of political turmoil which began when protests erupted in 2011 against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33 years in office. He has since stepped down.

Most kidnappings end peacefully with the hostages being freed unharmed.

Yemen is also battling one of the most active wings of al Qaeda, which has killed hundreds of people in attacks on state facilities, including military camps, over the past two years.

Al Qaeda-linked militants are also holding a South African citizen, identified as Pierre Korkie, demanding a ransom.

In January, the militants released his wife Yolande, who was seized at the same time in mid-2013. South Africa has been trying to negotiate the release of Korkie after the militants threatened to kill him if they did not receive $3 million in ransom.

(Reporting by Mohamed Ghobari, writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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