Tribal gunmen have kidnapped two American tourists along with their driver and translator, and are demanding the release of their jailed tribesman for the pair, Yemeni officials said Monday.
Government sources told CNN they have started moving forces to the area where the kidnapping is believed to have happened near the capital, Sana'a, but that their first option is negotiations.
"We will negotiate with the kidnappers to free the tourists first," said an official, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to talk to the media.
Another local source who knows the driver managed to call him and learned that more than five kidnappers stopped their car near an area called Bani Mansour, 70 km west of Sana'a, while they wereÂ returning from Hajara, a tourist area in Haraz province.
He said the tribesmen took them to an area called Shadara, which is where the tribe comes from.
The driver also reiterated that the victims "are being treated as guests to the tribe and they are all fine," said the source, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the situation.
A senior State Department official said that they learned about the incident when the U.S. consulate in Yemen was contacted by one of the kidnap victims.
Tourist kidnappings are not unheard of in Yemen, but the fact that the victim was able to call the consulate suggests that this is not a typical case, the official said.