Suspected al-Qaida gunmen killed a senior intelligence officer in an eastern Yemeni province on Friday, apparently the latest in a campaign of assassinations by the militant group, security officials said.
Dozens of local security officers and government officials have been killed in recent weeks in Yemen's provinces, where the central government has little control beyond the capital. Over the past year, with U.S. help, Yemen has stepped up its fight against al-Qaida's affiliate here, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Yemeni intelligence Lt. Col. Abdul-Aziz Abu Abed was gunned down Friday evening outside his house in Mukalla, the capital of eastern Hadramut province, the security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media. The gunmen, thought to be al-Qaida fighters, then escaped, the officials said.
The attack comes a week after militants tried to assassinate an intelligence colonel, Riyadh al-Khatabi, in the Hadramut town of Sayoun. Al-Khatabi was severely wounded and remains in intensive care in the hospital.
Also last week, gunmen killed the security chief of a town in the southern province of Abyan, then hours later tried to assassinate the provincial governor in clashes that killed eight people. Since then, government forces have been waging an assault on the area.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula announced earlier this month that it was creating a "new army" in the south aimed at toppling the San'a government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The latest attack came as the government deployed an additional 30,000 soldiers across the southern province of Aden to boost security ahead of next month's Gulf Cup football tournament. The eight-team competition is to be held from Nov. 22-Dec. 4, but some Persian Gulf nations are having second thoughts about sending teams amid security fears.