SANAA, Yemen _ A Norwegian man who was working for the United Nations was kidnapped by armed tribesmen in Yemen's capital Sanaa on Sunday, officials said.
Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ford Overland Andersen said the ministry was informed the 34-year-old Norwegian man was abducted early Sunday, but would not give more details.
According to a Yemeni security official, the U.N. worker was kidnapped in the capital Sanaa by armed tribesmen who transferred him to central Marib province, 110 miles (170 kilometers) east of the capital.
The official said the U.N. worker was taken hostage by the Obeyid Marib tribe. They were demanding the release of a tribesman who was arrested on charges of killing four soldiers assigned to guarding oil tankers.
Tribal leaders with close ties to the Obeyid Marib tribe said the U.N. worker was in good health and that his captors were in contact with the U.N. office in Yemen.
Also Sunday, a Yemeni military official said al-Qaida militants executed two soldiers who had been abducted two months ago while fighting al-Qaida militants west of Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan province.
The official said the bodies of the soldiers were found in the country's south.
Al-Qaida's dangerous Yemen branch has been taking advantage of nearly a year of internal turmoil over demands that President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down to take control of areas in Yemen's south.
For the past two days, around 200 al-Qaida militants have been occupying an 500-year-old mosque and school in the central province of Bayda.
On Friday the militants overran the building, which has not been in use for years. The site was a tourist attraction in the town of Radda.
An Associated Press photographer who visited Radda said the militants put up a nearly 40-meter cordon around the site and are armed with RPG's, automatic rifles and other weapons.
Residents of Radda said the black al-Qaida flag has been raised atop the historic mosque. Some feared that if security forces try to storm the site, they would be forced to flee their homes.
A top security official in Bayda said it was not the responsibility of police to remove the militants from the school, but to maintain general calm in the province.
All Yemeni officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
Bayda, about 100 miles (150 kilometers) south of the capital Sanaa, has seen large anti-Saleh street protests over the past year.
Yemen's opposition has accused Saleh of trying to torpedo a power transfer deal by allowing security to deteriorate in the south as a way of arguing that he must stay in power.
The U.S. long considered Saleh a necessary ally in combatting Yemen's active al-Qaida branch, which has been linked to terror attacks on U.S. soil and is believed to be one of the international terror organization's most dangerous franchises. The U.S. withdrew its support last summer and said he should step down.
Islamist militants began seizing territory in the southern Abyan province last spring, solidifying their control over the town of Jaar in April before taking the provincial capital, Zinjibar, in May.
Yemeni security forces have been trying unsuccessfully to push them out since then in fierce fighting that has caused many casualties on both sides. The conflict has forced tens of thousands of civilians from Zinjibar and the surrounding area to flee, many to the port city of Aden.
At least 2,000 displaced Yemenis returned home to Zinjibar for the first time in months on Saturday, raising fears that al-Qaida may be trying to use the civilians as human shields.