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Japanese diplomat stabbed in Yemen kidnap bid: source

Police troopers secure the gate of a hospital where a Japanese diplomat is being treated in Sanaa December 15, 2013. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
Police troopers secure the gate of a hospital where a Japanese diplomat is being treated in Sanaa December 15, 2013. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

SANAA (Reuters) - Armed men stabbed a Japanese diplomat in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Sunday when he resisted a kidnapping attempt near his house, a security source said.

It was the latest in a spate of attacks on foreigners in the impoverished Arab state, where the government is struggling to restore law and order since former president Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped aside in late 2011 following mass protests.

The source said the diplomat was in a stable condition in hospital after being stabbed in the head and hand with a dagger.

A taxi carrying two armed men pulled over in front of the diplomat's car while he was driving alone on his way to the embassy and attacked him with a knife, a spokesman of the Japanese embassy in Sanaa told Reuters by telephone.

The diplomat, who is the second secretary at the embassy, suffered several stab wounds, he said.

"I saw him after the attack... He is at the hospital now for treatment and checkup," said the spokesman, adding he did not know if the attack was an attempt to kidnap the diplomat.

Several Westerners, including embassy staff, have been killed or kidnapped this year by armed groups in Yemen.

Disgruntled tribesmen often take hostages to press the government to free jailed relatives or improve public services. Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants have been behind some of the kidnappings.

Besides being the base for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen is also grappling with attacks on security forces, a northern rebellion and secessionists in the south.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari in Sanaa; additional reporting and writing by Rania El Gamal in Dubai, Editing by William Maclean)

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