SANAA (Reuters) - Suspected al Qaeda militants shot dead the deputy governor of Yemen's central al-Bayda province on Tuesday, a security official said.
Adel al-Asbahi, the provincial security head of al-Bayda, said on the Defence Ministry website that armed men opened fire on Hussein Dayyan as he was leaving his home. Provincial officials said they fled on motorbikes.
The officials said they believe the assailants were militants linked to al Qaeda, and that security forces were hunting for them.
Yemen has been hit by turmoil since pro-democracy protests in 2011 forced president Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down after 33 years in office. 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 targets Islamist militants in Yemen with drone strikes, but does not comment on the practice.
(Reporting by Mohamed Ghobari; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Alison Williams)