UN staffers freed in Yemen after 18 months of al Qaeda captivity

Five United Nations security staff who were kidnapped in Yemen by al Qaeda militants 18 months ago have been released, the United Nations said on Friday.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the release of the U.N. staffers – four from Yemen and one from Bangladesh.

The top U.N. official in Yemen, David Gressly, met with the freedmen and joined them for a meeting with the head of Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council, whose forces helped secure the hostages’ release.

Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has used a conflict between a Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-aligned Houthis to enhance its influence.

Yemen has been mired in conflict since the Houthi group ousted the government from the capital Sanaa in late 2014. 

The Saudi Arabia-led military coalition intervened in 2015, aiming to restore the government.