American Oil Worker Is Kidnapped in Yemen

In recent years, Yemen has been locked in a war between the Houthis in the north and forces nominally loyal to the internationally recognized president in the south.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab countries that back the president have been bombing Houthi-controlled areas to try to restore the president to the capital, contributing to a large humanitarian crisis.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for Mr. Burch’s abduction, and it remained unclear why he was taken.

Mr. Burch worked on oil rigs in Yemen starting in 1994 and traveled back and forth between there and the United States before moving to Yemen in 2005, a son from his first marriage, Stephen Burch, said in a telephone interview on Monday from Louisiana, where his father was born and where he lives. Mr. Burch had divorced his American-born wife in 2000, the son said, and has had virtually no contact with him or his other two children, a second son and a daughter.

Mr. Burch’s LinkedIn page said he graduated from Kilgore College, in Texas, and had most recently worked as a mechanic and cement technician at Safer, a state-owned oil company. He had converted to Islam, married Ms. Forsa, who is from Yemen, and had three children, ages 7, 9 and 12, according to his wife and colleagues.

Ms. Forsa said her husband had left home on Saturday morning to take their sons to a sports club. When he did not return, she called him and found that his phone had been turned off. She called the club, and then his office, but no one knew where he was.

Photo

Danny Lavone Burch

Credit
Nadia Forsa

“I knew that something was wrong,” she said.

The police later told her that witnesses said he had been stopped on a busy street in Sana by five armed men in civilian clothes who drove a pickup truck with no license plates.

After they took Mr. Burch away, two of them parked his car on a side street, where Ms. Forsa later found it, she said.

“When I saw the car, my heart fell,” she said.

She told the couple’s sons that their father was traveling and that she looked upset because he had not told her ahead of time. “I don’t want to ruin their lives,” she said.

The abduction took place in a part of Yemen that is tightly controlled by the Houthis and where Al Qaeda is not believed to have an active presence.

Ms. Forsa said she did not know who had taken…

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