Sunday, July 21, 2013

Al-Qaeda behind Iranian embassy employee kidnapping in Yemen

Sanaa, Jul 21 - Unknown gunmen kidnapped an Iranian embassy employee in the Yemeni capital Sanaa today, police said, an abduction confirmed by the foreign ministry in Tehran.

ÒA search is under way to locateÓ the employee who was snatched in the street near the embassy in the southwestern neighbourhood of Hadda, a Yemeni police official said.

In Tehran, foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi told the ISNA news agency that Òone of the administrative staff members of the Iranian Embassy in Yemen has been abducted by an unknown group.Ó ÒThis person is Iranian,Ó Araqchi confirmed, naming him as Nour-Ahmad Nikbakht.

ISNA quoted an unidentified embassy source as saying there was no information about the kidnappers, and that a witness to the abduction had told the embassy about it.

This is the first time an Iranian has been kidnapped in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.
The Yemeni police official also said that the identity of the kidnappers was not known.

ÒThere are suspicions that Al-Qaeda is behind the kidnapping,Ó a Yemeni security officer said.

Militants from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the network's deadliest branch according to the United States, have been holding Saudi Arabia's deputy consul in Aden, Abdullah al-Khalidi, since March 2012.

AQAP militants are demanding the release of female Al-Qaeda-linked prisoners held in Saudi Arabia in return for Khalidi's release.
They have also held a South African couple since May.

Hundreds of people have been abducted in Yemen in the past 15 years, nearly all of them later freed unharmed.

Kidnappings are often carried out by tribesmen who use their captors as bargaining chips in disputes with the central government.

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