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Italian security officer released in Yemen

By Amir Ahmed, CNN
updated 8:10 PM EDT, Thu August 2, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Report says the Italian foreign minister confirms the release
  • NEW: The officer's father says his son is "doing well"
  • Yemen's state-run SABA news agency reports Italian security officer is free
  • He was kidnapped on Sunday and taken to a northern tribal area

(CNN) -- A security officer kidnapped while working at the Italian Embassy in Sanaa was released Friday morning, Yemen's state-run SABA news agency reported, quoting an official at Yemen's Interior Ministry.

The Italian security agent was kidnapped on Sunday, then was taken to the northern Al-Hrayqan tribal area of Marib province, the official said.

"The kidnappers have handed over the Italian hostage to local authorities in Marib province at midnight," the official added.

Italy's ANSA news agency reported that the Italian foreign minister sent out a communique with news that the officer, Alessandro Spadotto, was freed.

"We have not heard from him yet, but we have heard that he is doing well, that all is well," ANSA quoted Spadotto's father, Augusto, as saying.

The release came as a result of direct efforts by the minister of interior and the president himself, SABA reported, quoting the official source.

Earlier in the week, Italy's foreign ministry said it had activated a crisis unit and was working toward the officer's release. SABA reported close cooperation between Yemeni and Italian security agencies in securing the release.

Kidnappings and violence in Yemen have become increasingly common in recent years, especially since last year's uprising that eventually ended President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule in February.

Some of the violence have been blamed on affiliates of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, including the deadliest attack ever on Yemeni troops in May, when a massive suicide bombing killed more than 100 soldiers and injured 220 others.

CNN's Alex Felton contributed to this report.

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