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Security across Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, has largely collapsed during the nearly year-old popular uprising against longtime autocratic President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The militants have exploited the security vacuum, stepping up operations across the weakly governed provinces while authorities focused their resources on putting down the uprising, which was inspired by other Arab Spring revolts.

Also Tuesday, armed tribesmen from al-Mahweet province kidnapped six U.N. workers - an Iraqi woman, a Palestinian woman, a Colombian man, a German man and two Yemeni men. The assailants demanded that the government release fellow tribesmen from prison.

Tribes in Yemen historically have used kidnapping as a way of getting concessions from the government, and hostages ordinarily are treated well before being released.

EGYPT

25 Chinese nationals taken hostage in Sinai

EL-ARISH — An Egyptian intelligence official said Tuesday that armed militants have taken 25 Chinese factory workers hostage in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

He said a group of armed men belonging to an al Qaeda-inspired group attacked a bus taking the Chinese workers home. The armed men forced the workers off the bus, loaded them into cars and took them hostage.

The group is demanding release of militants jailed for a 2005 bombing in Sharm el-Sheikh at the tip of the Egyptian Sinai.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

IRAN

Iran launches Spanish TV in jab at U.S. ‘dominance’

TEHRAN — Iran’s president on Tuesday lauded his country’s newly launched Spanish-language satellite TV channel, saying it would deal a blow to “dominance seekers” - an apparent jab at the U.S. and the West.

The launch is Tehran’s latest effort to reach out to friendly governments in Latin America and follows Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s four-nation tour of the region earlier in January, which included stops in Cuba and visits to Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador.

It also comes as Washington and Europe have imposed tougher sanctions on Tehran over its controversial nuclear program.

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