Father of Yemeni Woman Kidnapped in Sanaa: Gunmen Only Wanted French Citizen

Militants in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa kidnapped French woman Isabelle Prime and her Yemini interpreter Sherine Makkaoui on Tuesday. FRANCE 24 spoke to Makkaoui’s father, who said his daughter refused to leave Prime’s side.

“She was with her driver and her colleague when they reached a checkpoint on road 45,” he explained. “The kidnappers wanted just the French girl and told my daughter to leave. The French [girl] held on to my daughter and my daughter refused to go as she didn’t want to leave the French girl all by herself. And so then they all drove off.”

Prime travelled to Yemen for her job “as a consultant on a World Bank-funded project.” Makkaoui’s brother said the two ladies first met in university. She travelled with Price as a guide and interpreter.

“Sherine had a doctorate and did social studies at university,” said Abdelakaoui. “That’s where she met the French girl. They offered her voluntary work and then they offered her a job.”

Francisco Ayala, president of Ayala Consulting, which employed the hostages, told the media no one knows the identity of the gunmen and they did not ask for ransom through the company. He said the company’s local security advisors are working closely with the interior ministry and said they do not “know anything concrete as yet.”

Makkaoui’s family reached out to tribes in Sanaa.

“We contacted various tribal leaders in Sanaa and in the provinces of Jawf and Marib to ensure their cooperation for the release of the two women,” said her uncle Yassine Makkaoui. “We have also contacted, for the same reason, the interior ministry and the Huthis.”

French officials also claimed they are doing everything they can to rescue the two women. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius promised the government is “making ‘every effort’ to reach Prime’s kidnappers.”

“We demand her speedy release,” declared French President Francois Hollande. “We are trying to locate her and we will do everything we can to have her released.”


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