SANAA (Reuters) - Suspected al Qaeda militants shot dead a Yemeni intelligence officer in south Yemen, a security official said on Saturday, in at least the sixth such attack blamed on the resurgent group since June.
The officer was gunned down by two men as he walked outside his home late on Friday in the flashpoint southern province of Lahej, the security official said, adding that the attackers were suspected al Qaeda operatives.
The group has said it was behind most of the raids blamed on it since June, killing dozens of people, and has vowed to launch more attacks in Yemen and neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter.
Al Qaeda’s Yemen-based regional wing previously attacked Western and Saudi targets, but appears to be targeting government forces in response to enhanced Yemen-U.S. security coordination in government crackdowns on the militant group.
As a result of the crackdown, an al Qaeda leader in the northern province of al-Jouf surrendered to government forces, a security official told Reuters on Saturday.
The official identified the man as Juman Safian, without giving further details.
Impoverished Yemen is struggling to curb a rising southern separatist movement and cement a fragile truce with northern rebels.
The Arabian Peninsula state has faced Western and Saudi pressure to quell domestic conflict in order to focus on al Qaeda.
Yemen leapt to the forefront of Western security concerns after al Qaeda’s Yemen-based regional wing claimed responsibility for a failed attempt to bomb a U.S.-bound plane in December.
Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari and Mohamed Sudam; writing by Erika Solomon and Firouz Sedarat; editing by Michael Roddy