Iran's official news agency says that special operatives have freed an Iranian diplomat abducted more than 19 months ago in Yemen.

IRNA quotes deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdolahian as saying the intelligence officers carried out a "difficult and complicated operation" to secure the freedom of Nour Ahmad Nikbakhat from the "hands of terrorists."

The report says Nikbakhat, who was stationed in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa at the time of his abduction, returned home to Iran on Thursday.

The deputy foreign minister did not elaborate. Iran rarely admits to carrying out intel operations abroad.

In July 2013, armed men stopped an Iranian diplomat's car as he was driving in Sanaa, forced him into their vehicle and sped away.

No one claimed responsibility but the abduction was blamed on al-Qaida-linked gunmen.