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Saudi diplomat kidnapped in Yemen

By Hakim Almasmari, for CNN
updated 10:52 AM EDT, Wed March 28, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Saudi Arabia urges the kidnappers to release the diplomat promptly -- state media
  • Diplomat Abdullah al-Khalidi was taken by gunmen in the southern port city of Aden
  • No group has yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping
  • A number of foreigners have been abducted in Yemen this month

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Saudi Arabia's deputy consul was kidnapped in Yemen's southern port city of Aden Wednesday, two security officials there told CNN.

The diplomat, identified as Abdullah al-Khalidi, was taken by unknown gunmen near his residence in Rimi, in the Mansoora district, as he was entering his vehicle, the officials said.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency cited an official source at the Saudi Foreign Ministry as saying al-Khalidi was seized by an armed group in front of his home.

The embassy immediately contacted Yemeni security authorities and all parties are investigating, the agency reported.

The Foreign Ministry "stresses that whoever the party that kidnapped him and whatever their motives, they bear the full responsibility to protect him and release him promptly," the agency said.

Saudi Arabia will take all measures to protect all its diplomats and staff, it added.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the abduction.

Al Qaeda has been attempting to infiltrate Aden from neighboring Abyan province since November, officials said. Last week, black al Qaeda flags were raised over numerous areas of the city.

Checkpoints have been set up at all entry points to the city, officials said.

In two incidents this month, a Swiss woman and three Philippine nationals were kidnapped in Yemen. The government has not so far been able to secure their release.

An American teacher was fatally shot in the province of Taiz earlier this month, Yemeni Defense Ministry officials said. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula -- the terror network's affiliate in Yemen -- claimed responsibility for that attack.

Yemen has been fighting the group for years, with mixed results.

CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom contributed to this report.

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