Five United Nations employees were kidnapped by an unknown armed group in southern Yemen. The spokesperson for the highest-level UN official in Yemen, Russell Geekie, stated that the staff had been abducted in the Abyan governorate while returning to Aden after a field mission.
Making a statement on the incident on Saturday, Geekie said, “The United Nations is in close contact with the authorities to secure their release.”
According to a source at the UN office in Aden, four of those kidnapped were Yemeni nationals.
Leaving the questions on the issue unanswered at a press conference, UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said, “we are aware of this case, but, for obvious reasons, we are not commenting.”
Meanwhile, Yemen’s internationally recognized government issued a statement on the matter on Saturday, saying they are in cooperation with the UN Department of Security to ensure the safe release of the staff.
The Southern Transitional Council, which maintains control over much of Yemen’s southern parts, denounced the incident, labeling it as a “terrorist operation.”
Kidnapping cases are not uncommon in Yemen. Last November, the Iranian-backed Houthi group stormed the residence that served as the US embassy in the capital Sanaa, and held captive most of the local staff. Moreover, armed tribesmen, and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula-linked (AQAP) groups involve in such crimes for ransom.