x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Abducted Saudi diplomat in Yemen 'is not in danger'

A Saudi diplomat kidnapped by Al Qaeda fighters in Yemen's southern city of Aden last month is safe and likely to be released soon, according to a tribal chief.

SANAA // A Saudi diplomat kidnapped by Al Qaeda fighters in Yemen's southern city of Aden last month is safe and likely to be released soon, a tribal chief said yesterday.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula abducted Abdullah Al Khalidi, Saudi Arabia's deputy consul in Aden, on March 28 in a bid to secure the release of prisoners and collect a ransom.

"Negotiations are ongoing and should result ... in [Mr Khalidi's] release in less than a week," Tariq Al Fadli, a tribal chief and former jihadist, said, adding the diplomat's life "is not in danger".

Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for Mr Khalidi's abduction, according to the official Saudi news agency SPA.

Mr Khalidi is the third Saudi national to be kidnapped in Yemen in as many years.

In April last year, tribesmen seized a Saudi diplomat in the capital, Sanaa. Saeed Al Maliki, a second secretary at the Saudi embassy, was released nine days later.

In November 2010, gunmen abducted a Saudi doctor in north Yemen and demanded nine jailed Al Qaeda militants be freed. He was released the same day after tribal mediation.

Al Qaeda has exploited the weakening central government in Sanaa to strengthen its presence in Yemen, launching deadly attacks against security forces.