Six Al Qaeda terrorists killed in Yemen

Sanaa, Oct 24 (IANS) Yemeni warplanes struck Al Qaeda hideouts Thursday killing six terrorists even as suspected Al Qaeda militants killed an intelligence officer in the country's capital Sanaa.

The warplanes carried out two air strikes against Al Qaeda hideouts, killing six terrorists, including three Al Qaeda commanders, in the southern province of Abyan Thursday, a military official told Xinhua.

"There were two separate air strikes launched by the air force and targeted hideouts of the Al Qaeda militants in Wadi Mahfad town in Abyan province. At least six terrorists were killed, three in each air strike," the local military official said on condition of anonymity.

A senior intelligence officer in the Wadi Mahfad town told Xinhua that most of the dead militants were local commanders of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda offshoot.

"About three Al Qaeda local leaders, who were responsible for several armed attacks and suicide bombings against the army forces in Abyan, were also among the dead elements," the officer said.

Last week, an Al Qaeda suicide car bomber stormed a military base in Yemen's southern province of Abyan, killing at least 15 soldiers and injuring dozens.

The Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) based in Yemen's southern regions has repeatedly said that its attacks were in revenge for joint US-Yemeni operations including drone strikes against the group.

Drone strikes have increased since August after the US temporarily closed its embassy in Sanaa due to security threats. The Yemeni government said more than 40 suspected AQAP fighters were killed in the strikes.

Earlier in the day, suspected Al Qaeda gunmen shot dead an officer of the military intelligence agency near his home in Sanaa, a government official told Xinhua.

"The Al Qaeda gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire at Col. Abdulrahman al-Shami, who works in the military intelligence department, as he got out of his residential building in central Sanaa," the government official said on condition of anonymity.

Eyewitnesses told Xinhua that the unknown attackers fled the crime scene after the incident.

State-run Saba news agency confirmed the incident saying that "criminal elements assassinated Colonel al-Shami while he was passing through a main street in central Sanaa".

"Police authorities have launched an investigation to track the terrorists," it reported.

The drive-by shooting came a few days after Yemeni security forces foiled an attempt by hundreds of Al Qaeda inmates who attempted to escape the main intelligence prison in Sanaa.

The Al Qaeda prisoners stabbed an officer of the criminal investigation department and a number of guards inside the jail before rioting and breaking the prison gates, according to local sources.

Yemeni security services have repeatedly blamed militants of the AQAP for a series of assassination attacks, mostly in the country's southern regions.

The Yemen-based AQAP, which emerged in January 2009, is considered the most strategic threat to the Yemeni government and neighbouring oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

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