Yemeni kidnappers shot dead three foreign female aid workers on Monday, three days after nine foreigners, including seven Germans, were abducted in northwestern Yemen, provincial officials said.
They said two German girls out of the group were found alive after police found the bodies of two German nurses and a South Korean female teacher in the district of Akwan of the of Wadi Nushur area east of Saada.
Wadi Nushur is close to al-Jawf province, where the Sunni Muslim Al Qaeda terrorist network has a presence. It borders the southern Saudi province of Najran.
A provincial official in Saada, who asked anonymity, said the women were shot and stabbed.
The slain women were working in Saada for the Dutch World Wide Services Foundation, a charity foundation that places medical personnel in hospitals in developing countries for periods of up to two years.
They were working at the state-run al-Jumhori hospital in Saada, while the others were visiting.
The hostages - a German health appliances technician, his wife, their three children and two German female volunteers as well as a British engineer and a female teacher from South Korea - were abducted on Friday.
Security sources said the nine went missing in mysterious circumstances after they went on an excursion south to the Gharaz district south of Saada, some 240 km northwest of Sana'a.
Security officials in Sana'a said the British engineer, the German technician, his wife and one of their children were still alive late Monday, but it was not clear whether they were still in the hands of the kidnappers.
No tribal or political group made any claim of responsibility for the abduction, but the official Saba news agency reported Sunday that the group was kidnapped by Shia rebels.
These, led by the Shia leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, denied involvement in the abduction, saying in a statement that the accusation was "baseless and fabricated."
Saada, on the border with Saudi Arabia, has been the scene of sporadic but fierce clashes between Shiite rebels and the army. Hundreds of soldiers and insurgents have been killed since the fighting erupted in June 2004.
The conflict-torn province is closed for foreigners except medics and aid workers.
The abduction, which is the fifth abduction of foreigners in the impoverished country this year, follows the arrest a Saudi man described by Yemeni authorities as the senior financier of Al Qaeda in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.