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Saudi vice consul abducted in Yemen's Aden

(Xinhua)

08:31, March 29, 2012

ADEN/SANAA, March 28 (Xinhua) -- The vice consul of Saudi Arabia in Yemen's southern port city of Aden was abducted and taken to an unknown location by unidentified gunmen early Wednesday, a local security official told Xinhua.

"A group of armed men kidnapped Saudi Arabia's vice consul Abdullah al-Khaledi while he was coming out of his home in the Mansoura district in Aden and heading to work at the consulate headquarters in Khor Maksar city in Aden," the local security official said on condition of anonymity.

A source at the consulate confirmed to Xinhua anonymously that "vice consul al-Khaledi disappeared on Wednesday morning after gunmen intercepted his car and took him to an unknown location by force."

"This is the second time that our diplomats are humiliated in Yemen. Two months ago, unknown gunmen seized the car and some personal properties of vice consul al-Khaledi in the same place in Aden," the source added.

Sources at the Yemeni Interior Ministry and the Saudi embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa also confirmed on condition of anonymity that Saudi vice consul Abdullah al-Khaledi was kidnapped in Aden early Wednesday.

No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the incident yet.

Initial investigation showed that the al-Qaida wing in Yemen is behind the kidnap. Intelligence officers in Sanaa said anonymously that the militants may demand ransom to release the Saudi official, but "if they proved that the kidnapped Saudi official was behind intelligence acts against the militants, the abducted consul might be killed."

The al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has recently intensified its operations in the southern port city of Aden, preparing to launch more attacks and assassinations against the Yemeni army and security forces, as well as foreigners in the southern regions of the impoverished country.

Suspected al-Qaida gunmen on Monday attacked a central prison in Aden, wounding at least two policemen.

Two weeks ago, al-Qaida militants abducted a Swiss woman in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida and then moved her to Yemen's restive Shabwa province. The terrorist group demanded a ransom of 250 million Yemeni rials (about 1.2 million U.S. dollars) for the release of the kidnapped language teacher, according to a tribal chief in the mediation committee.

Foreigners were frequently kidnapped in Yemen as tribesmen in the lawless areas often resort to such acts to force the government to meet their demands. Most of the abducted foreigners were finally released unharmed.

On Nov. 14, 2011, three French humanitarian workers were released with the help of the Omani government after armed tribesmen in southeastern Yemen held them in captivity for almost six months.

Al-Qaida militants who took advantage of the conflicts in the country have seized several towns in the southern Abyan and Shabwa provinces after fighting with government troops.

The group, mainly entrenching in Yemen's southern provinces, is on the terrorist list of the United States, which considers it as an increasing threat to its national security.

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