ADEN, Yemen (Reuters) - Five policemen were wounded in south Yemen when an attacker on a motorcycle threw a hand grenade, while a senior police investigator was injured by a car bomb, security officials said.
The attack late on Wednesday on the police station in Jaar, a town in the province of Abyan, was the latest in a series aimed against security personnel in south Yemen since June. Most have been claimed by al Qaeda.
Security forces had launched a search for the attacker, the official told Reuters. He said the bombing followed battles in Jaar between security forces and unidentified gunmen.
The head of Al Dalei province’s police criminal investigations unit was treated in hospital for wounds he suffered when a bomb attached to his vehicle exploded, but was not in a critical condition, a security official said.
Two other policemen were wounded in separate clashes in Abyan with militants, believed to be members of al Qaeda, an official said, adding that one of the militants was also injured.
Al Qaeda’s campaign against government forces in southern Yemen marks a widening of tactics by the militant group’s Yemen arm, which has clashed with authorities for many years but previously focussed on attacks against foreign targets.
With U.S. backing, the government is conducting a crackdown on al Qaeda, which had long made use of Yemen’s impenetrable mountains and deserts to hide and set up training camps.
Security forces said on Thursday Hazam Majali, an al Qaeda militant convicted of participating in a 2002 attack on the French-flagged oil tanker Limburg off Yemen, and several other militants surrendered to police, the Defence Ministry’s newspaper 26 September reported.
In 2006, Majali and 23 other militants escaped from a jail in Sanaa, enabling al Qaeda to revive its regional wing.
Western powers fear al Qaeda is exploiting instability in Yemen, which borders Saudi Arabia, to strengthen its operations and launch attacks abroad. In December, the group claimed responsibility for an attempted bombing of a U.S.-bound passenger plane.
Violence between Yemeni government forces and southern separatists has risen to its worst level since a 1994 civil war.
A woman passerby was killed by stray gunfire on Wednesday during clashes between a southern separatist and policemen. Three policemen were wounded.
North and South Yemen united in 1990, but many in the south, site of most of Yemen’s oil facilities, believe northerners have commandeered their resources while denying them political rights.
Reporting by Mohammed Mokhashef; Writing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Erika Solomon; editing by Nina Chestney and Diana Abdallah