Saudi diplomat kidnapped in southern Yemen

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SANAA, Yemen — A Saudi diplomat was kidnapped on his way to work Wednesday in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden, a Yemeni security official said.

It was the first kidnapping of a Saudi diplomat in this impoverished country, where abductions are frequent and where armed tribesmen and al-Qaida-linked militants take hostages in an effort to swap them for prisoners or cash.

The security official identified the diplomat as Abdullah al-Khaldi, the deputy consul at the Saudi consulate in Aden. No more details were immediately available. The Yemeni official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

It was not clear whether the abduction had any political motives.

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 yearlong turmoil and mass protests against his rule. Saleh stepped down last month and handed power to his deputy.

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

Printed on Thursday, March 29, 2012 as: Saudi diplomat posted to Yemen kidnapped, reasons unknown