The U.S. State Department said Sunday that several Americans are being held by the Shi'ite Houthi insurgents in Yemen who ousted the American-backed government and are continuing their fight for control of the Arab world's poorest country.
One newspaper, The Washington Post, reported that four U.S. nationals are believed to be held at a prison near the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, but that U.S. efforts to free them have been unsuccessful. The newspaper said none of those held is a U.S. government worker. Three are believed to have been working for private sector companies, while the fourth, whose occupation is unknown, holds dual U.S.-Yemeni citizenship.
One State Department official said the U.S. is "doing everything we can to get those individuals released," but declined to give further information about their identity or their circumstances.
With the help of U.S. intelligence, Saudi Arabia has been launching airstrikes against the Houthis since late March. As the Iranian-backed Houthis advanced toward the southern Yemeni port of Aden, Yemen's U.S.-supported president, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, fled to Saudi Arabia.
When the fighting intensified earlier this year, the U.S. closed its Sana'a embassy. The conflict has claimed about 2,000 lives.