October 11, 2011 / 12:27 PM / 7 years ago

Yemeni airforce commander killed in car bomb

DUBAI, Oct 11 (Reuters) - A Yemeni air commander was killed in a car bomb attack in south Yemen on Tuesday, a security source and witnesses said, the latest in a series of such attacks during a nine-month political crisis over President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule.

Amin al-Shami’s car went up in flames from an apparent car bomb after he left an air base in Lahej province, witnesses said. The security source said two people riding in the vehicle survived the attack.

A security source also said police seized a bomb factory in the southern city of Aden and arrested one person.

“We are still looking for a number of suspects, including a Saudi. This is the group that blew up al-Qawla police station on Saturday and tried to assassinate the defence minister in Aden last month,” the source said.

Police said an improvised explosive device was detonated outside a station in Aden’s al-Qawla district, shattering windows and setting a nearby car ablaze. One of the soldiers on guard was killed. Five others, plus two police officers, were wounded.

Aden, which lies east of a strategic shipping strait where some 3 million barrels of oil pass daily, has been in a security clampdown for months. Its neighbouring province, Abyan, has been plunged into chaos since militants suspected of ties to al Qaeda began seizing cities in the coastal region several months ago.

Tens of thousands of refugees have fled into Aden and neighbouring provinces to escape the bloodshed and the Yemeni army has struggled to regain territory lost to the militants.

Other suspects for the attack on Saturday could be separatist militants. A long-simmering secessionist movement in south Yemen has been heating up as the Arabian Peninsula country sinks further into turmoil.

Saleh, in power for 33 tears, has been clinging to his position as opposition and ruling party representatives cast about for a formula to effect a transition-of-power deal. (Writing by Andrew Hammond; Reporting by Mohamed Mukhashaf; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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