Senior Yemen army officer survives roadside bomb: government

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 22, 2012 1:04 PM
Senior Yemen army officer survives roadside bomb: government

ADEN (Reuters) - A senior military official in Yemen survived an assassination attempt on Sunday in the southern province of Hadramaut, residents and the defense ministry said.

A roadside bomb went off as a convoy carrying Colonel Yahia al-Rusaishan, the commander of the air force in Hadramaut, passed through the port city of al-Mukalla, wounding him and three of his aides, residents said.

The Ministry of Defence described the attack in a text message as an "act of terror".

It was the latest in a string of assassination attempts against security officials in southern Yemen, where al Qaeda-linked Islamists gained a foothold during a 14-month uprising against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh last year.

Yemen's proximity to Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil producer, has seen the United States back a major Yemeni offensive against the militants which has notched up a series of successes in recent months.

Washington and Riyadh have both been the targets of abortive attacks by Yemen's al Qaeda wing and backed a power transfer deal that replaced Saleh with his deputy in February.

Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Saleh's successor, took office promising to reunify the military and to fight al Qaeda. In May, he launched a military offensive with U.S. backing that drove Islamist fighters out of a host of towns in the south.

Since Hadi came to power, Washington has increased "counter-terrorism" activity in Yemen, targeting al Qaeda figures in drone and missile strikes.

(Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf; Writing by Mahmoud Habboush; Editing by Andrew Osborn)