Yemeni police killed two Al-Qaeda suspects who were allegedly involved in a series of hit-and-run attacks against security personnel in the capital, official sources said on Wednesday.
Yemeni forces raided the men’s house in Sanaa but they refused to surrender, sparking a gun battle in which the pair were killed and a police officer wounded, a security official told AFP.
Abdulkhaliq Mohammed al-Kabsi and Yehya Mohammed Sanhub were “behind a series of terrorist crimes carried out on motorbikes in Sanaa,” the defence ministry’s news website 26sep.net reported, describing them as “commanders in Al-Qaeda.”
A cheap form of transport frequently replacing taxis in the impoverished country, motorbikes have become a tool for hit-and-run shootings that have killed dozens of officials in recent years.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), seen by Washington as the network’s deadliest franchise, has been blamed for most of the motorbike attacks on the security forces despite never claiming them.
In December, Yemen enforced a temporary ban on motorbikes in the capital to avert the attacks as the country pursued national dialogue talks that ended in February.
Yemen has been going through a difficult political transition since veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh was ousted in February 2012 after a year of deadly protests against his 33-year rule.
AQAP has exploited the uprising to seize large swathes of the deeply-tribal country’s south and east.
The army recaptured several major towns in 2012, although it has struggled to reassert control in rural areas despite recruiting militia allies among local tribes.
But in a new bid to eradicate Al-Qaeda, troops launched an offensive on April 29, focusing on jihadist strongholds in the south while also killing and arresting militants elsewhere across the country.