Gunmen kidnapped Saudi Arabia’s deputy consul from outside his residence in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden on Wednesday, a Yemeni security official said.
Police in the city’s Mansoura district said the gunmen snatched Abdullah al-Khalidi as he was about to get into his car and sped off with him in another vehicle, according to Reuters.
Another security source confirmed the incident to Al Arabiya.
“He was taken to an unknown location and we are searching from him,” a Yemeni police official told AFP, on condition of anonymity.
He added that police have launched an investigation into the kidnapping and are actively searching for the diplomat.
This is the second attack against Khalidi in recent months. Late last year, unknown gunmen stopped the diplomat while he was driving in Aden, pulled him from his car and then stole it. He was unharmed.
Aden borders Yemen’s lawless southern Abyan province, where al-Qaeda linked militants have exploited the weakening central government in Sana’a to strengthen their presence in the country, launching deadly attacks against security forces especially across the restive south and southeast.
The United States says the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is the most active and deadly branch of the global jihadist network.
Since last May, the extremists have increased their control over several towns and villages in the south, including Abyan’s capital Zinjibar.
More than 200 people have been abducted in Yemen over the past 15 years, many of them by members of the country’s powerful tribes who use them as bargaining chips with the authorities.
Almost all of those kidnapped were later freed unharmed.