Southern Yemeni politician survives assassination attempt

Reuters News

9/10/2012 8:18:59 AM - Reuters News

SANAA (Reuters) - A southern Yemeni politician who recently returned from exile survived an assassination attempt on Monday, security sources said, the latest in a series of such attacks in a state where Washington is fighting Islamist militants.

Mohammed Ali Ahmed, an interior minister in a short-lived breakaway government in south Yemen in 1994, returned home in March after 18 years in exile.

Yemen's government is trying to re-establish order after an uprising pushed out veteran ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh in February, but faces threats from Islamist militants, southern secessionists and a Shi'ite rebel movement in the north.

Security sources said Ahmed was meeting with other southern factions at a hotel in the eastern province of Hadramout when a roadside bomb placed under his parked car blew up. He was unharmed and there were no reports of causalities.

Yemeni factions, including separatists who want to reinstate a southern state that united with the north in 1990, have been invited to a national dialogue ahead of a parliamentary election in 2014.

The dialogue was agreed as part of a Gulf-brokered deal that allowed Saleh to step down, and the election of his deputy Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi as the new president.

The protests and factional fighting have allowed al Qaeda's regional wing to seize swathes of south Yemen, and Shi'ite Muslim Houthi rebels to carve out their own domain in the north.

The lawlessness has alarmed the United States Yemen's much bigger neighbor Saudi Arabia, the top world oil exporter, which view the impoverished state as a new front line in their war on al Qaeda and its affiliates.

Washington, which has pursued a campaign of assassination by drone and missile against suspected al Qaeda members, backed a military offensive in May to recapture areas of Abyan province.

But militants have struck back with a series of bombings and assassinations.

On Sunday, Hadi said Yemeni security forces had foiled a plot to detonate car bombs in three different cities including the capital Sanaa and the southern port of Aden.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari in Sanaa and Dhouyazen Mukhashaf in Aden; Writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Kevin Liffey)