Yemen: Qaeda seeks detainees release to free diplomat

Yemen`s Qaeda demanded Saudi Arabia authorities to free the remaining female detainees in return for "immediate release" of a Saudi diplomat.

Sanaa: Yemen`s al Qaeda wing demanded Saudi Arabia authorities on Tuesday to free the remaining female detainees in return for "immediate release" of a Saudi diplomat they had kept hostage for more than three months.

The Saudi interior ministry released five al Qaeda-linked female prisoners and said it had no links to the demands by the Yemen-based al Qaeda to free Saudi diplomat Abdullah al-Khaledi.

In a statement obtained by Xinhua on Tuesday, the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) said:"After the Saudi authorities freed five female detainees on Monday, we demand the release of the rest; seven others still behind bars, so free them in return for our immediate release of the Saudi deputy council."

"Hela al-Kasir, Wafa al-Yahya, Nowayer al-Sehaimy, Hanan al- Katheri, Ghayda al-Shareef, Hissa al-Zahrani and Afra`a al-Balawi were all still behind bars and must be released in return for al- Khaledi`s live," the statement said.

Abdullah al-Khaledi, Saudi Arabia`s deputy consul in Yemen`s southern port city of Aden, was abducted by the AQAP outside his residential building in Aden on March 28.

Earlier this month, the AQAP released a video tape, threatening to kill al-Khaledi unless al Qaeda-linked female prisoners were freed from Saudi jails and a ransom was paid.

The middle-aged diplomat also appeared in May in a four-minute video who made an emotional appeal to the Saudi king, saying that "my life is in your hands. I appeal to you to respond to the demands of al Qaeda and release those jailed women."

The Saudi authorities reopened its diplomatic mission in Yemen in July after nearly three months of closure in protest against the kidnapping of al-Khaledi.