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Iranian diplomat killed in Yemen

Ali Asghar Assadi was killed in Sanaa when he resisted gunmen trying to kidnap him

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An Iranian diplomat was killed in Yemen’s capital Sanaa on Saturday when he resisted gunmen who were trying to kidnap him near the ambassador’s residence.

“Ali Asghar Assadi, the Iranian diplomat who had been injured in the terrorist attack in Sanaa, was martyred,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told the official IRNA news agency.

Afkham said the diplomat was seriously injured when he resisted his attackers and was taken to a Sanaa hospital, where he died.

The medic at Sanaa’s Modern German Hospital told Agence France-Presse that diplomat that Assadi, had been “hit in the shoulder, abdomen and stomach.”

“He was taken to the operating theater then transferred to intensive care but died after an hour and half.”

Security sources in Yemen told Reuters the diplomat was travelling in a car belonging to the Iranian embassy. However, the ambassador was not in the car at the time of the attack.

The gunmen fled, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility, the sources said.

Kidnapping of foreigners in Yemen is common, often carried out by disgruntled tribesmen seeking to press the government to free jailed relatives or to improve public services, or by Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda.

There has also been a spate of attacks targeting foreigners in the Yemeni capital in recent months.

On December 15, the Japanese consul was seriously wounded after being dragged from his car in Hadda and repeatedly stabbed.

On November 26, gunmen killed one Belarussian defense contractor and wounded another as they left their Sanaa hotel.

And on October 6, a German embassy guard was killed as he resisted an attempt to kidnap him.

Iran, a regional Shiite Muslim power, had also its diplomatic missions in the Arab world occasionally targeted as sectarian violence spreads in the region.

Yemen is witnessing an escalating sectarian tension between Shiite Muslim Houthis and ultra-conservative Sunni Salafis in northern Yemen in the last several months, with at least 210 people killed.

In addition to southern secessionists and an economic crisis, Yemen is in turmoil since a popular uprising ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011.

Yemeni officials are currently pushing for reconciliation efforts in the country, which is home to the most active wings of the Sunni militant force al-Qaeda.

(With Reuters and AFP)