(MENAFN - Arab News) Kingdom is trying to secure the release of a Saudi diplomat who was kidnapped by armed men in Yemen Saturday as he was heading to work at the Saudi Embassy in Sanaa.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is exerting utmost efforts to secure the release of Saeed Al-Malki, second secretary at the embassy in the Yemeni capital," said Osama Nugali, a ministry spokesman, here Sunday. "The Saudi government is following the case closely, and with great concern."
Saudi Embassy officials in Sanaa have been able to call Al-Malki and determine that he was in good health and condition, said a news report quoting Ambassador Ali Al-Hamdan.
Local media reports said the kidnappers are demanding a ransom of SR5 million, which they claim is owed to them by an unidentified Saudi businessman.
Asked about any clue to the whereabouts of the diplomat, Nugali said: "We do not want to divulge any details at this stage."
Three gunmen from the Bani Dhabian tribe have been identified as the men involved in the kidnapping. One of them - Abdrabu Nasser Hussein Al-Salemi - is reported to have some complicity in shady business deals. Al-Maliki was abducted from Hada Street in Sanaa. The diplomat has been taken to a mountainous area 80 km southeast of Sanaa, according to the media.
This is not the first case of a Saudi official's abduction in Yemen. In November, armed tribesmen kidnapped a Saudi official in Yemen and later released him after receiving assurances about the release of detained kinsmen. In another case, the Saudi Embassy managed to free four Saudi citizens who had been abducted by Yemeni tribesmen in April last year.
In a highly publicized case last year, Saudi security officials secured the release of two German girls who were part of a group of foreigners kidnapped in Yemen. The girls were found during a joint Saudi-Yemeni operation.
More than 200 foreigners have been kidnapped in Yemen over the past 15 years. Most of them were freed unharmed.
By GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN