Al-Qaeda in Yemen releases video of kidnapped UN worker

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Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen released a video on Saturday showing a United Nations worker who was kidnapped in the war-torn country more than six months ago, the SITE Intelligence Group reported.

Five UN staff members were abducted in February in Yemen’s southern province of Abyan as they returned to the port city of Aden “after carrying out a field mission”, it was reported. then told AFP the spokesman of the UN, Eri Kaneko.

In Saturday’s video message, apparently recorded on August 9, Akam Sofyol Anam, identified by SITE as Bangladeshi, urges “the UN, the international community, humanitarian organizations, to come forward…and meet the demands of my captors” , without specifying the requests.

He said he was facing “serious health issues”, including heart problems, and needed “immediate medical support and hospitalization”, according to SITE, which monitors extremist activity.

Anam, whom SITE identified as the “director of the United Nations Security and Safety Office in Yemen”, said he and four colleagues were abducted on February 11.

Yemen has been embroiled in conflict since Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized control of the capital Sanaa in 2014, triggering a Saudi-led military intervention to support the embattled government the following year.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died, directly or indirectly as a result of the fighting, and millions have been displaced in what the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Aden became the base of Yemen’s internationally recognized government after the Huthis ousted it from the capital Sanaa in 2014.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and militants loyal to the Islamic State group thrived in the chaos.

“The United Nations is in close contact with the authorities to secure their release,” its spokesman said after the workers’ kidnapping in February.

Formed from the merger of the Yemeni and Saudi branches of al-Qaeda, AQAP has carried out attacks against rebel and government targets in Yemen as well as foreigners.

It has also been accused of plotting attacks beyond the Middle East and its leaders have been targeted by US drone warfare for more than two decades, although the number of strikes has declined in recent years.

Yemen’s warring parties have observed a ceasefire since April, leading to a drastic reduction in hostilities although small-scale fighting continues.

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