Gunmen kidnap three Westerners in Yemeni capital

No further details were immediately available about the kidnapped or the abductors. Al-Qaida militants in Yemen and tribesmen have been involved in kidnapping foreigners in the past.

SANAA , Yemen — Gunmen abducted three Westerners in the Yemeni capital on Friday, a security official told Reuters.

"People saw a car stop in Tahrir Square, militants snatching three Westerners and speeding away," the official said.

No further details were immediately available about the nationality of the kidnapped or the affiliation of the abductors. Al-Qaida militants and tribesmen have been involved in kidnapping foreigners in the past.

The kidnappings came just two days after President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi overhauled the armed forces in a drive to bring stability and weaken political rivals in the impoverished country.

Lawlessness in Yemen has alarmed its neighbor and top world oil exporter Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States, which increasingly views the Arabian Peninsula state as a front line in its struggle against al-Qaida and its affiliates.

Tribesmen have carried out abductions to pressure the government into releasing their kinsmen from prison.

This week's overhaul of the armed forces is widely seen as part of an effort to curb the still considerable influence of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, loosen his family's grip on the military and implement an internationally-backed plan to restore stability.

Hadi's government is also grappling with the threat of al-Qaida and a growing secessionist movement in the south.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; writing by Mahmoud Habboush)

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