Aden: Five staff members of the United Nations Organization were kidnapped in Yemen`s turbulent southern province of Abyan, a UN official confirmed on Saturday. (February 12)
Russell Geekie, the Senior Communications Advisor to the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, said “the UN staff members were on the way back to Aden after having completed a field mission”, Xinhua news agency reported.
“The United Nations is in close contact with the authorities to secure their release,” he said.
Meanwhile, local media outlets reported that unknown gunmen believed to be members of the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch intercepted a UN vehicle in Mudiyah district, east of Abyan province.
The gunmen kidnapped several UN workers and took them to an unknown location, according to the reports.
So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) network, which mostly operates in eastern and southern provinces, has been responsible for many high-profile attacks against security forces in the country in the past.
The AQAP has exploited years of deadly conflict between the Yemeni government and Houthi militia to expand its presence in some key areas of the war-ravaged Arab country.
A Saudi-led military coalition has also been fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi group in Yemen since 2015.
The coalition intervened in Yemen`s civil war in 2015 after the Houthis ousted the government from the capital, Sanaa. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions, causing a dire humanitarian crisis.