middle east

UN security staff released 18 months after Al-Qaeda kidnapping

Five United Nations security staff who were kidnapped in Yemen by Al-Qaeda militants 18 months ago have been released, the United Nations said on Friday.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the release and “reiterates that kidnapping is an inhumane and unjustifiable crime, and calls for the perpetrators to be held accountable,” a U.N. spokesperson said.

The staff – four from Yemen and one from Bangladesh – were in “very good health and good spirits, despite everything that they went through,” the top U.N. official in Yemen, David Gressly, told reporters.

“But they went through a very difficult period of 18 months of isolation,” he added.

The U.N. staff were kidnapped in Yemen’s southern region of Abyan on Feb. 11, 2022. Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has used a conflict between a Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-aligned Houthis to enhance its influence.

Gressly warned that AQAP was an “increasing threat.”

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