Yemeni tribal gunmen walk past a bullet-riddled building in the capital Sanaa
Yemeni tribal gunmen walk past a bullet-riddled building in the capital Sanaa on April 10. Bulgaria's ambassador to Yemen has escaped a kidnap attempt while he was driving through Sanaa in a diplomatic car, local and Bulgarian officials said. © Mohammed Huwais - AFP/File
Yemeni tribal gunmen walk past a bullet-riddled building in the capital Sanaa
AFP
Last updated: May 13, 2012

Bulgarian ambassador escapes Yemen kidnap bid

Bulgaria's ambassador to Yemen has escaped a kidnap attempt while he was driving through Sanaa, where Oman has closed it embassy and withdrawn its staff over "terrorist threats," diplomats and security officials said.

In Sofia, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov confirmed the aborted abduction of ambassador Boris Borisov and said the diplomat was injured.

"Masked armed men stopped the car of the Bulgarian ambassador to kidnap him, but the diplomat managed to escape and hide in a nearby shop," a Yemeni security official told AFP in Sanaa.

The attempt against Borisov and his wife took place on Algeria Street, a main thoroughfare in the Yemeni capital, at around 17:00 pm (1400 GMT), another Yemeni official said.

The Bulgarian foreign minister reacted in a statement saying: "I am shocked and indignant at the kidnap attempt and violence against the Bulgarian ambassador in Sanaa, Boris Borisov."

According to the Bulgarian foreign ministry, a pick-up truck intercepted and blocked the diplomatic car, driven by Borisov.

The four armed men in the truck first shot in the air and then smashed the front and driver's windscreen of the car.

"They tried to forcefully drag Borisov out of the car, hitting him on the face and arms. One of the attackers entered through the righthand side door of the car and threatened ambassador Borisov with a knife," Mladenov said.

"The rest continued to shoot and hit the car with their stocks of their guns, trying to facilitate the kidnapping. The ambassador managed to resist and remain in the driver's seat, warning them that they were attacking a diplomat."

Borisov will return to Sofia shortly for treatment and the embassy in Sanaa will be closed for business for the next few days, Mladenov told national radio.

He could not immediately comment on the reasons behind the kidnap attempt but urged Yemen authorities to undertake urgent measures to track down the perpetrators and prevent similar incidents in the future.

Borisov, who has been interim ambassador in Yemen since 2008 was appointed ambassador recently and presented his credentials only a week ago.

Meanwhile, Oman shut its mission and withdrew its staff from Sanaa, an Arab diplomat there said on Sunday.

"The Omani embassy was closed Saturday and diplomats in Sanaa left Yemen after receiving terrorist threats," the diplomat said.

He did not specify the nature of these threats but said that "most diplomatic missions in Sanaa have received threats," including the embassies of Gulf states and those of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

These countries have played a major role in convincing Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh to cede power he held for nearly three decades by brokering a UN-backed deal he agreed to sign last year.

More than 200 people have been abducted in Yemen over the past 15 years, many of them by members of the country's powerful tribes who use them as bargaining chips with the authorities.

Almost all of those kidnapped were later freed unharmed.

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