American Held By Houthi Rebels in Yemen Dies

Image: Houthi militant stands past a destroyed house at the site of Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen's capital Sanaa
A Houthi militant stands in front of a destroyed house at the site of Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen's capital Sanaa on Oct, 28, 2015. KHALED ABDULLAH / Reuters

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By Abigail Williams and Phil Helsel

An American being held by Houthi rebels in Yemen has died while in detention, the U.S. State Department said Tuesday.

John Hamen, a contractor for a company maintaining a building being used by the United Nations, was detained by rebels at the Sanaa airport on Oct. 20, State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said.

A cause of death has not been determined, Toner said, and no other details were released. Shiite Houthi rebels have been fighting against government forces.

"We express our deepest condolences to his family and friends. State Department officials provided all possible consular assistance to the family," William Cocks, a spokesperson for the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, said in a statement.

In September, the rebels released two Americans, security consultant Sam Farran and Scott Darden, who was working in Yemen for a logistics firm, after holding them for nearly six months.

The war in Yemen has pitted Shiite Houthi rebels and forces fighting for former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against fighters loyal to exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, as well as southern separatists, local militias and Sunni extremists.