There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but officials blamed members of al-Huthi group, a secessionist movement which has been fighting the government since 2004, for the abductions.

Kidnappings of Western tourists or workers is fairly common in Yemen with most incidents resolved peacefully in exchange for ransom or concessions from authorities.

Yemeni tribesmen in Saada on Friday released a group of 24 doctors and nurses whom they abducted a day earlier, demanding the authorities release two prisoners.