Middle East

Suspected Qaeda militants kill deputy governor in central Yemen

Military police troopers man a checkpoint on a road linking the Yemeni capital Sanaa with the oil-producing province of Marib June 26, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

SANAA: Suspected al Qaeda militants shot dead the deputy governor of Yemen's central province of al-Bayda on Tuesday, a security official said.

Adel al-Asbahi, the provincial security chief of al-Bayda, said on the Defence Ministry website that armed men fired on Hussein Dayyan as he was leaving his home. Provincial officials said they fled on motorcycles.

The officials said they believed the assailants were militants linked to al Qaeda, and that security forces were hunting for them.

Elsewhere, a Yemeni soldier was shot dead by two assailants who were on a motorcycle near the airport of the capital Sanaa, a military source said.

Yemen has in turmoil since mass pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011 forced President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down after 33 years in office. Yemeni authorities have since struggled to rein in rival political factions and tribes, southern separatists and Islamist insurgents.

Al Qaeda militants have stepped up their attacks against local security and government officials in recent months.

Restoring stability to Yemen is a global concern. The impoverished country of 25 million people shares a long border with Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter.

Al-Bayda has suffered security incidents in the past. In December, 15 people on their way to a wedding were killed by an air strike after their party was apparently mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy, according to local officials.

The Yemeni government said in a statement at the time that senior al Qaeda militants were targeted in the air strike.

The statement did not say who carried out the air attack. The U.S. military goes after Islamist militants in Yemen with aerial drone strikes, but does not comment on the practice.





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