BEIRUT

Middle East

Yemen forces kill Al-Qaeda 'kidnap leader' in night raid

A building used by Al-Qaeda militants is seen after it was destroyed by an airstrike in Al-Mahfad area of the southern Yemeni province of Abyan May 6, 2014 in this photo provided by Yemen's Defense Ministry. Picture taken May 6, 2014. REUTERS/Yemen's Defence Ministry/Handout via Reuters

SANAA: Yemeni security forces killed an Al-Qaeda commander suspected of masterminding a wave of kidnap attempts targeting Western diplomats in a nightime operation in the capital, a spokesman said on Friday.

Hours later, a bombing in the diplomatic district of Sanaa wounded 11 police officers, a security official said.

The night operation came amid a security alert in Sanaa that prompted the closure of the US embassy on Thursday as troops backed by US drones pressed an offensive in the south.

Shayef Mohammed Said al-Shabwani was "one of Al-Qaeda's most dangerous and wanted commanders... suspected of involvement in abductions and killings of Yemeni police and foreigners", the security force spokesman told state news agency Saba.

He was stopped in a car close to the presidential palace with four other people, one of whom was also killed in an exchange of fire when they resisted arrest, the spokesman said.

The other three were arrested, two of them wounded, he added.

Security forces have been on high alert in Sanaa since the army launched a highly publicised offensive against Al-Qaeda in its southern strongholds late last month, drawing open threats of retaliation.

On Friday, a bomb in a bus wounded 11 policemen in an eastern district of the city where the British and Qatari embassies are located.

Six officers in the unit tasked with protecting strategic sites and key personnel were critically injured, the security source said.

Late Thursday, unidentified assailants opened fire on guards outside the Saudi embassy without hitting anyone, another security source said.

The culprits escaped after the drive-by shooting.

There has been a wave of kidnap attempts against Western embassy personnel in the capital in recent weeks, some of them deadly.

Also on Thursday, troops entered the town of Azzan, the second largest in Shabwa province, from which Shabwani takes his name.

The jihadists had controlled much of Shabwa and hill districts of neighbouring Abyan and Baida provinces since 2011.

The ground offensive began on April 29 in the three provinces, where a wave of US drone strikes killed scores of suspected Al-Qaeda militants last month.

The jihadists took advantage of an Arab Spring-inspired uprising that forced veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh from power to seize large swathes of southern and eastern Yemen.

The army recaptured several major towns in 2012 but has struggled to reassert control in rural areas, despite the backing of militiamen recruited among local tribes.

The American embassy was closed to the public Thursday amid fears of Al-Qaeda reprisals. It would have been closed anyway Friday, the Muslim day of prayer and rest.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday that the embassy would be temporarily closed to the public "due to recent attacks against Western interests in Yemen".

These attacks "and information we have received have given us enough concern to take this precautionary step", she said in a statement.

On Monday, a Frenchman was killed and another was wounded when gunmen opened fire on their car in Sanaa's diplomatic district.

Both worked for a private security firm that officials said was guarding the European Union delegation in Yemen.

On Wednesday, Yemeni security forces shot dead the head of a "terror cell" behind Monday's attack, the country's supreme security committee said.

Later that day, the interior ministry said it was searching for suspects whose vehicles were involved in recent attacks in Sanaa after "five Al-Qaeda terrorists" were arrested in several parts of the city.

The suspects had "arms, ammunition, and devices used to carry out terrorist acts" in their possession, it said.

 

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus
Summary

Yemeni security forces killed an Al-Qaeda commander suspected of masterminding a wave of kidnap attempts targeting Western diplomats in a nightime operation in the capital, a spokesman said on Friday.

Hours later, a bombing in the diplomatic district of Sanaa wounded 11 police officers, a security official said.

The night operation came amid a security alert in Sanaa that prompted the closure of the US embassy on Thursday as troops backed by US drones pressed an offensive in the south.

Security forces have been on high alert in Sanaa since the army launched a highly publicised offensive against Al-Qaeda in its southern strongholds late last month, drawing open threats of retaliation.

Six officers in the unit tasked with protecting strategic sites and key personnel were critically injured, the security source said.


Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here