Last updated: 28 January, 2012

Six killed in south Yemen violence

A high-ranking police officer, a soldier and four militants have been killed in separate incidents in south Yemen, a security official and witnesses told AFP on Saturday.

The police official said Mubarak Barafaa, head of a criminal investigation unit, was cut down by machinegun fire late on Friday close to his house in Ghayl Ba Wazir, in the southeastern province of Hadramawt.

He died soon afterwards in hospital in Mukalla, the provincial capital, added the official, saying the gunmen “who were probably members of Al-Qaeda” escaped.

No group has yet admitted responsibility for the murder, but Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is very active in southern and eastern Yemen, where attacks on the security forces are regularly blamed on the jihadists.

Elsewhere, a soldier and four Al-Qaeda fighters were killed in overnight clashes in the southern city of Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province, a local official said.

The clashes flared after insurgents pounded a military barracks east of Zinjibar, said the official, adding that a tank was destroyed in the attack.

Troops have been trying to regain control of Zinjibar, which fell last May to Al-Qaeda’s local affiliates, known as the Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law).

Meanwhile, in Sanaa, three mortar rounds hit the base of the First Armoured Division in the north of the capital, a military source said. No casualties were reported.

The division is led by General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar who defected last year and sided with protesters demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

After months of deadly protests, the Yemeni leader finally signed a power transfer deal in November that effectively ended his three decades in power.

He left the country on Sunday after handing constitutional powers to his deputy Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi and receiving a blanket immunity against prosecution.

He stopped in Britain on Saturday en route to the United States for medical treatment.