Kidnapped Iranian Diplomat Rescued in Yemen

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An Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Yemen and held hostage for nearly two years has been rescued in a military operation and returned to Tehran on Thursday, official media reported.

Nour-Ahmad Nikbakht was seized in July 2013 while leaving his home in Sanaa by gunmen suspected of being members of al-Qaida.

Iranian state television broadcast images Thursday of the diplomat arriving at Mehrabad airport in Tehran.

"I was kidnapped by unknown gunmen and terrorists as I left my home to go to work," Nikbakht said.

He said "many efforts were made by soldiers from (Iran's secret services), the intelligence ministry and the foreign ministry" to secure his release.

Nikbakht was held by suspected al-Qaida militants in a remote area between the southern provinces of Shabwa and Baida, tribal and Yemeni security sources said.

"I was in an extremely difficult situation and I did not know what was happening in the outside world," he told state media. 

Intelligence minister Mahmoud Alavi said the operation to free Nikbakht was executed "with the fewest possible casualties". 

Tehran had "refused the conditions set by the terrorists" for the diplomat's release, Alavi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency. 

Deputy foreign minister Hussein Amir-Abdollahian added that Nikbakht was rescued by a military intelligence unit "after a series of complicated operations in a difficult area in Yemen".

In January last year, another Iranian diplomat, Ali Asghar Assadi, was shot dead in an attack in a neighbourhood in Sanaa housing several foreign embassies.

Nikbakht's release came less than a week after Saudi diplomat Abdullah al-Khalidi was freed and returned home after spending close to three years in al-Qaida's captivity.

Yemen, a key front line in the U.S. war against al-Qaida, has been gripped by unrest since longtime president Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down in early 2012 after a bloody year-long popular uprising.

Violence has increased since a Shiite militia known as the Huthis swept into the capital last September.

The Huthis, who occupied the seats of power in February in what critics branded an attempted coup, are accused of receiving backing from Shiite-dominated Iran.

A number of foreigners have been taken hostage in Yemen in recent years.

In December, U.S. journalist Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie died during a failed attempt by U.S. commandos to rescue them from an al-Qaida hideout in southeastern Yemen.

Comments 4
Thumb joebustani 05 March 2015, 09:26

bless anyone person, entity, organization, brigade or country that inflicts pain and suffering, death, torture, and destruction upon the iranian sectarian terrorist militia and its members, supporters or followers wherever they may be.

Thumb _mowaten_ 05 March 2015, 12:13

Did you get your qaeda membership card yet?

Thumb scorpyonn 05 March 2015, 10:44

Iranians are cancer wherever they go-this man should not have been freed.

Thumb _mowaten_ 05 March 2015, 12:13

Spoken like a true qaeda supporter.