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US Contractor in Yemen Dies in Rebel Custody

  • VOA News

American contractor John Hamen and a foreign contractor were seized when they arrived in Sana'a, Yemen, Oct. 20, 2015.

American contractor John Hamen and a foreign contractor were seized when they arrived in Sana'a, Yemen, Oct. 20, 2015.

The State Department says an American contractor has died in the custody of Houthi rebels in Yemen.

U.S. officials identified him as John Hamen and said he worked for a company maintaining a building used by the United Nations in Yemen.

Officials gave no details of how Hamen died, but expressed the department's deepest condolences to his relatives and friends.

Houthi rebels seized Hamen and another foreign U.N. contractor when they arrived in Sana'a October 20. It is unclear why they were seized. U.S. officials have not identified the second hostage.

Hamen was a U.S. Army veteran and a 1990 graduate of Lakota High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, news media in the Midwestern state reported. He lived near Norfolk, Virginia.

His wife, Jen Hamen, wrote on his Facebook page that she’d learned of his death Saturday. "Our family is heartbroken right now," she wrote, noting that "my 7 kids have lost the best dad ever!"

Hamen's body was expected to be returned to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the Associated Press reported.

A Saudi-led Arab coalition is carrying out a ground and air campaign to drive the Houthis out of Yemen and restore the internationally recognized government.

U.N. efforts to negotiate an end to the war in Yemen so far have failed.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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