Last updated: 24 July, 2014

Al-Qaeda suspects kill army officer in south Yemen

Al-Qaeda suspects on a motorbike shot dead an army officer Thursday in Lahij province of southern Yemen, a local security official said.

The gunmen opened fire at Major Bilal Karo near his home in Thalab town, “immediately killing him,” the source said, adding that the militants “suspected of belonging to Al-Qaeda” fled on their motorbike.

A medical source said Karo’s body was taken to Ibn Khaldoun hospital in the province.

Motorbikes in the impoverished country have become a tool for hit-and-run shootings which have killed dozens of officials in past years.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, branded by Washington as the network’s deadliest franchise, has been blamed for most such attacks, although it has never claimed them.

In December, Yemen enforced a temporary ban on motorbikes in Sanaa to prevent attacks during a key phase of a national dialogue.

Lahij province is home to Al-Anad air base, where Yemeni officials have said Washington has deployed personnel to gather intelligence for its drone war on Al-Qaeda.

In late April, the Yemeni army launched a ground offensive against Al-Qaeda in Abyan and Shabwa provinces to the east.

The military says it has killed more than 500 militants, but the jihadists are believed to have regrouped in the mountains and neighbouring provinces.