Last updated: 29 May, 2014

Yemen intelligence officer and his son shot dead by gunman on motorbike

A gunman riding on the back of a motorbike shot dead a Yemeni intelligence officer and his son in the southeastern city of Mukalla on Thursday, a security source said.

The attack was carried out in broad daylight in the heart of the port city, capital of Hadramawt province, an Al-Qaeda stronghold, the source said.

Colonel Salmin al-Obtani was the latest in a string of army and intelligence officers to be killed in hit-and-run attacks in Hadramawt.

Mukalla has also been the scene of a number of spectacular attacks claimed by Al-Qaeda.

In October, militants stormed army headquarters in the city and held some of its garrison hostage for several days before being overrun in fighting that left at least 10 people dead.

In February 2012, a suicide bomber blew up a vehicle outside the presidential palace in Mukalla, killing 26 elite troops and overshadowing the swearing in of Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi as the first new president in Sanaa since 1978.

There have also been spectacular attacks in the province’s interior.

On Saturday, dozens of Al-Qaeda militants, including suicide bombers, attacked army camps and public buildings in the Hadramawt valley’s main town Seiyun, killing at least 15 soldiers and police, security officials said.

Al-Qaeda exploited the 11-month-long 2011 uprising that led to the ouster of longtime strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh to seize large swathes of southern and eastern Yemen.

The army recaptured several major towns in Abyan and Shabwa provinces further west in 2012 but has struggled to reassert control in rural areas despite recruiting militia allies among the local tribes.

Troops launched a new offensive in the two provinces on April 29 and have entered a string of smaller towns.

But analysts say the army’s gains may have been the result of a tactical retreat by Al-Qaeda in coordination with the tribes.

Washington regards the jihadists’ Yemen franchise — Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — as its most dangerous and has stepped up drone attacks against AQAP leaders in recent months.