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Bangladeshi UN worker in Yemen freed by Al-Qaeda

Akam Sofyol Anam and four others were abducted by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in February 2022
This handout photograph taken and released by the Bangladesh Prime Minister's Office on Aug. 10 shows Bangladeshi national Akam Sofyol Anam (second from left), his wife Kazi Nasreen Anam (right), and son Sakeef Anam (left) as they meet Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (second from right) in Dhaka after he was freed after a year and a half abduction by Al-Qaeda in Yemen

This handout photograph taken and released by the Bangladesh Prime Minister's Office on Aug. 10 shows Bangladeshi national Akam Sofyol Anam (second from left), his wife Kazi Nasreen Anam (right), and son Sakeef Anam (left) as they meet Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (second from right) in Dhaka after he was freed after a year and a half abduction by Al-Qaeda in Yemen. (Photo: AFP)

Published: August 11, 2023 05:17 AM GMT
Updated: August 11, 2023 05:22 AM GMT

A Bangladeshi citizen working for the United Nations has been freed after a year and a half abduction by Al-Qaeda in Yemen, the prime minister's office said Thursday.

"I never thought I would return home," Akam Sofyol Anam told reporters in Dhaka, following his return a day earlier on Wednesday, calling the last 18 months "horrifying".

"I thought the terrorists might kill me anytime", added Anam, a former army lieutenant colonel. "My days were miserable. There was a fear of death every day; it cannot be expressed in words -- it is seen in films only."

In February 2022, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) kidnapped Anam and four others as they returned to Yemen's southern port city of Aden after a field mission while working for UN Department of Safety and Security.

Anam said that he was not physically tortured, but had often been kept blindfolded.

"I couldn't see the sky for months," he said, adding that he was moved repeatedly from place to place.

He said that he had "no idea how much money they wanted or what was their demand", adding that he thought he had been "targeted as I was an UN official."

Anam "expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her role in rescuing him", the premier's office said, releasing a picture of the two meeting.

Yemen's conflict began in 2014 when Iran-backed Huthi rebels seized the capital Sanaa, prompting a Saudi-led coalition to intervene the following year to prop up the internationally recognized government.

AQAP and militants loyal to the Islamic State group have thrived in the chaos.

Formed in a merger of Al-Qaeda's Yemen and Saudi branches, AQAP has carried out attacks on both rebel and government targets in Yemen, as well as foreigners.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed directly or indirectly in Yemen's war.

But hostilities have sharply declined since a six-month, UN-brokered truce came into effect in April last year, even after it lapsed in October.

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