Last updated: 13 May, 2012

Bulgarian envoy escapes Yemen kidnap attempt

Bulgaria’s ambassador to Yemen escaped a kidnap attempt on Saturday while he was driving through Sanaa in a diplomatic car, local and Bulgarian officials said on Sunday.

“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 security official told AFP in Sanaa.

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

In Sofia Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov confirmed the incident, adding that Borisov was injured in the fight.

“I am shocked and indignant at the kidnap attempt and violence against the Bulgarian ambassador in Sanaa, Boris Borisov,” Mladenov said in a statement.

According to the 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.”

The ambassador 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.

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.