US calls on Yemen’s Houthi rebels to free local embassy staffers held captive

CAIRO — The United States urges Yemen’s Houthi rebels to release all US Embassy local staffers that they had detained, following the death of one of them after seven months in captivity.

The Iran-backed Houthis seized the headquarters of the US Embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa last October. They detained dozens of former staffers, many of whom were later released, but at least 11 remained in the rebels’ custody.

Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation, has been fractured by a brutal civil war since 2014, when the Houthis seized Sanaa and much of northern Yemen, forcing the internationally recognized government into exile. A Saudi-led coalition entered the war a year later to try and restore the government to power. Washington shut down its embassy in 2015.

In a tweet, the embassy, now operating outside of Yemen, says it’s mourning Abdulhameed Al-Ajami, a retired employee of the US Agency for International Development, describing him as “an innocent grandfather” and “a proud Yemeni” dedicated to educating children in his country.

“We extend our condolences to his loved ones and call on the Houthis to end this injustice and release every single current and former US Embassy employee now,” it says.

Yesterday, the US State Department issued a statement confirming Al-Ajami’s death but did not mention any details on the time or the circumstances of his death.

Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed