Yemen's southern port city of Aden, from where the diplomat was kidnapped
An aerial view of Aden city centre in southern Yemen. A Saudi diplomat kidnapped in the city by Al-Qaeda is set to be released unharmed after negotiations this week, according to a tribal chief. © Karim Sahib - AFP/File
Yemen's southern port city of Aden, from where the diplomat was kidnapped
Last updated: April 23, 2012

Saudi diplomat kidnapped by Al-Qaeda in Yemen to be freed

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

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 (Khalidi's) release in less than a week," Tariq al-Fadli, a tribal chief and former jihadist, told AFP, adding the diplomat's life "is not in danger."

He gave no further details on the ongoing negotiations aimed at securing his release.

Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for Khalidi's abduction in a phone call to Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Yemen in April, according to the official Saudi news agency SPA.

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

In April 2011, tribesmen seized a Saudi diplomat in the capital Sanaa. Saeed al-Maliki, a second secretary at the Saudi embassy, was released nine days later.

And 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 their presence in Yemen, launching deadly attacks against security forces, especially across the restive south and southeast.

Saudi Arabia itself witnessed a wave of deadly attacks by Al-Qaeda between 2003 and 2006, which prompted authorities to launch a crackdown on the local branch of the jihadist network founded by slain Saudi-born Osama bin Laden.

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