Three American citizens have been kidnapped in Yemen and the U.S. government is trying to get them released, the State Department said yesterday.

The Americans were kidnapped yesterday in the Dhamar area of the country on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, a State Department official said.

"We are working with the Yemenite government to secure their release," the official said, without disclosing any information about the Americans or speculating on who was responsible.

Yemen, which has been plagued by abductions and bombings in recent months, said it would set up special courts to deal with the kidnapping of foreigners and acts of sabotage, the official Saba news agency reported.

Tourists and foreigners working in the country, one of the poorest in the Arab world, have often been kidnapped by disgruntled tribesmen, who also frequently bomb and damage Yemen's main pipeline from the east of the country to the Red Sea coast.

The abductions and sabotage attacks usually are intended to pressure the the government or foreign oil companies to improve conditions in tribal areas.

The State Department issued a travel warning about Yemen on Oct. 21, saying "the level of risk for foreigners in Yemen is very high."