Saudi diplomat kidnapped in southern Yemen

AP News
Posted: Mar 28, 2012 11:42 AM
Saudi diplomat kidnapped in southern Yemen

Gunmen kidnapped a Saudi diplomat while he was on his way to work Wednesday in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said.

Abductions are frequent in Yemen, an impoverished nation where armed tribesmen and al-Qaida-linked militants take hostages in an effort to swap them for prisoners or cash. It was the second recent instance of a Saudi diplomat being kidnapped in Yemen.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry confirmed the kidnapping and said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency that a group of armed men abducted the diplomat in front of his residence.

It warned that those behind the abduction "would be held responsible for his safety and should free him soon."

The Saudi Foreign Ministry identified the diplomat as Abdullah al-Khaldi, the deputy consul at the Saudi consulate in Aden. No more details were immediately available.

It was not clear whether the abduction was politically motivated.

In April, a Saudi diplomat was kidnapped because of a financial dispute between the son of a tribal leader and a Saudi businessman. The diplomat was released after 10 days in captivity.

Saudi Arabia and the rest of Gulf Cooperation Council countries have been heavily involved in a power-transfer deal that forced Yemen's longtime president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to relinquish power after a year of mass protests against his rule. Saleh stepped down last month and handed power to his deputy.

Yemen's political turmoil has caused a security vacuum in the country, which al-Qaida has used to seize large swaths of territory across the restive south.