Yemeni security forces on Wednesday shot dead the head of the “terror cell” behind the killing of a Frenchman in Sanaa earlier this week, the country’s supreme security committee said.
Wael Abdullah Masood al-Waeli, “who supervised the killing of the French citizen,” was killed in a clash with security forces in the capital, the committee said.
Another member of the cell was also shot dead while a third was arrested, it said, according to Saba state news agency.
The Frenchman was killed on Monday and another was wounded when gunmen opened fire at their car in Sanaa’s diplomatic district. Both worked for a private security firm that officials said was guarding the EU delegation in Yemen.
Yemen’s top security body said police had traced Waeli and other gunmen on Tuesday to a house in Sanaa, but they refrained from storming the hideout “because there were women and children.”
Police closed in on the gunmen when they left the house, but fighting erupted as the suspects resisted arrest, it said.
Waeli was also behind the kidnapping of a Dutch journalist and his wife, who were held captive for six months before they were released in December.
Foreign diplomats, mainly Europeans, have increasingly come under attack in Sanaa.
A German diplomat was wounded in the city on April 28 as he evaded an attempt by gunmen to kidnap him in the same district.
Last October, a German embassy security guard was killed as he resisted a kidnapping attempt.
Two Britons and a German were kidnapped in January and February, respectively.
Yemen, a deeply tribal country where most men are armed, is home to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is seen by Washington as the most potent franchise of the global network after being linked to a number of attempted attacks on the United States.
Al-Qaeda militants hold captive Saudi diplomat Abdullah al-Khalidi, who was kidnapped from the southern city of Aden in March 2012, and Iranian diplomat Nour-Ahmad Nikbakht, kidnapped in July 2013 from Sanaa.