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Iranian Diplomat Killed While Resisting Kidnap Attempt in Yemen

No claim of responsibility for death of Tehran's economic attaché to troubled African nation.
Image: Yemeni soldiers stand guard in front of the Iranian ambassador's residence in Sanaa, Yemen, on Saturday.
Yemeni soldiers stand guard in front of the Iranian ambassador's residence in Sanaa, Yemen, on Saturday after an Iranian diplomat was killed during an attempted kidnapping nearby.Hani Mohammed / AP

An Iranian diplomat was killed Saturday in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa when he resisted gunmen who were trying to kidnap him near the ambassador's residence, the Iranian Foreign Ministry and Yemeni security sources said.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told Fars News Agency the diplomat was seriously injured when he resisted his attackers and was taken to a Sanaa hospital, where he died.

"We are seriously following up the dimensions of this terrorist action with the relevant Yemeni government officials,'' Afkham said.

Afkham did not identify the envoy, but the Associated Press reported that Iranian state television identified him as Ali Asghar Asadi, Iran's economic attaché in Yemen, and said he had been "martyred."

Security sources in Yemen told Reuters the diplomat was travelling in a car belonging to the Iranian Embassy, but the ambassador was not in the car at the time of the attack.

The gunmen fled, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility, they said.

Kidnapping of foreigners in Yemen is common, often carried out by disgruntled tribesmen seeking to press the government to free jailed relatives or to improve public services, or by Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda.

But Iran is the leading Shiite Muslim power in the Middle East, and its diplomatic missions in the Arab world have occasionally been targeted as sectarian violence spreads in the region

-- Reuters