SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A top Yemeni commander escaped an assassination attempt by a suicide car bomber in southern Yemen on Wednesday, in an attack that also killed three people and injured others, a military statement and security officials said.
The officials say that the bomber targeted Maj. Gen. Abdel-Rahman al-Halili, the commander of the First Army District in the province of Hadramawt. He was heading to a camp located between the towns of Qatn and Sayoum. They said that he was injured in the head by shrapnel.
A statement issued by the First Army District said that three people were killed, including two civilians and one soldier. It added that 12 of al-Halili's guards were wounded. The security officials put the death toll to seven. It was not immediately possible to clarify the discrepancy in the figures. The statement made no mention to the commander's injury.
Al-Halili also visited the wounded in Sayoun hospital where he hinted that al-Qaida was behind the attack, saying that the "cowardly ones are back to their cowardly actions by setting up checkpoints and fighting from behind sand bags after their camp was destroyed days ago."
Al-Halili was referring to a recent campaign in the Wadi Sirte area, where al-Qaida training camps were hit by airstrikes.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack but al-Hilali has been targeted by al-Qaida previously in failed assassination attempts.
The security officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.
The provincial capital of Hadramawt, Mukalla, fell into hands of al-Qaida last year but the Saudi-led coalition supporting the internationally-recognized government recently forced the group out.
The battles with al-Qaida are one of the many faces of the Yemeni conflict.
Over the past year, Shiite Houthi rebels and allied forces loyal to a former president have been fighting local forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition which is supporting the internationally recognized government of President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi.