Bangladeshi among 5 UN staff members abducted in South Yemen

A Bangladeshi national, AKM Sufiul Anam, is among the five United Nations staff members who have been abducted in southern Yemen, foreign ministry and family sources have confirmed.

Sufiul works as a Field Security Coordination Officer (Head) of United Nations Department of Safety and Security in Aden, Yemen.

He retired from Bangladesh Army as a lieutenant colonel, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, who is now abroad, confirmed to The Daily Star through a Whatsapp message.

Sufiul served the Bangladesh Army from 1977 to 2005. Since retirement from army, he has been working with the UN.

A relative of Sufiul told The Daily Star the family is shocked and extremely concerned.

“We don’t know why they abducted him. We just pray that he comes back safely,” the relative said.

Earlier on Saturday, Reuters reported that the UN staff were abducted on Friday in Abyan governorate, quoting Russell Geekie, a spokesman for the top UN official in Yemen.

“The United Nations is in close contact with the authorities to secure their release,” Geekie said.

Yemen’s internationally recognised government, which is based in the southern region of the country, was working to safely free the UN staff abducted by unknown gunmen, the official news agency on Saturday cited a cabinet statement as saying.

An official at the UN office in Aden told Reuters that four of those seized were Yemeni nationals.

Yemen has been mired in violence since the Iran-aligned Houthi movement ousted the government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014, prompting a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia to intervene months later.

Among Yemen’s many destabilising forces are Islamist militant groups Al Qaeda and Islamic State that have in the past carried out attacks including in the south, which last year saw protests over deteriorating economic conditions.

The war has killed tens of thousands of people and caused a dire humanitarian crisis with 80% of Yemen’s population reliant on aid.

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