Three members of an Al Jazeera Arabic news crew have been kidnapped in Yemen, the news channel said in a statement last night as it called for their immediate release.
The Qatar-funded broadcaster said Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent, Hamdi Al-Bokari and his crew members Abdulaziz Al-Sabri and Moneer Al-Sabai were last seen in the besieged southern Yemeni town of Taiz on Monday, Jan. 18.
They were covering events in the city just before they went missing.
Yemeni national Al-Bokari, who had worked for the news channel since 2006, was last seen around 10pm on Monday in the center of the war-torn city, according to a statement by Al Jazeera Arabic.
The channel added that there were “indications that he had been kidnapped by unknown persons.”
Mostefa Souag, acting director general of Al Jazeera Media Network, called for the “immediate release” of the news crew:
“Our colleagues were simply doing their job of reporting the story and informing the world on what is taking place in Yemen. Al Jazeera holds their abductors responsible for their safety and security.
“It is tragic to see that in times of conflict, news organisations continue to be targeted. Journalists should have the freedom to do their work without the fear of intimidation, abduction or unlawful arrest,” he continued.
Taiz, the country’s second most populated city, is officially controlled by the Yemeni government and troops loyal to the exiled Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, but for months has been under siege by Iran-backed Houthi soldiers.
More than 5,700 people – half of them civilians, including many children – have been killed in the war since it began nearly 10 months ago.
Several GCC states, including Qatar, have been participating in a Saudi-led bombing campaign against the Houthis.
The Houthi’s control the capital Sana’a and the north, while the Hadi loyalists, backed by the Arab coalition, retain control of Aden in the south.
Taiz is strategically located between the two cities.
In March, Qatar reportedly launched 10 fighter jets alongside warplanes from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan as part of “Operation Decisive Storm.”
And in September, Qatar sent approximately 1,000 ground troops to Yemen, backed by more than 200 armored vehicles and 30 Apache combat helicopters.
Qatar special forces soldier Muhammad Hamid Sulayman was killed in November – the state’s first reported casualty in the conflict.