3 policemen, local Qaeda chief killed in Yemen onslaught
SANAA - Agence France-Presse
An al-Qaeda militant sits with his gun in the city of Rada, 130km (85 miles) southeast of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, on January 20, 2012. AFP photoThree policemen were killed in a suicide attack in Yemen's Bayda province Tuesday that sparked clashes in which a local Al-Qaeda chief also died, a security official said.
"Three policemen were killed and six others were wounded in a suicide attack on a checkpoint in Suwadeya," the official said, referring to a village in Bayda province, south of Sanaa.
The attack, carried out with a bomb-laden vehicle, was followed by clashes between extremists and security forces in which the province's Al-Qaeda chief, Naser al-Dhafri, and another militant were killed, the source said.
He accused Dhafri of being the "mastermind" behind Tuesday's attack.
The militants also managed to capture two policemen during the fighting, the official said, requesting anonymity.
Tuesday's attack was the latest in a spate of such assaults by the network against security forces that have rocked Yemen since former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled the country for 33 years, stepped down last month.
It came hours after the interior ministry issued a statement warning of "a terrorist plot by Al-Qaeda to target vital installations and government facilities in several provinces." "The Al-Qaeda network is planning to carry out terrorist operations using bomb-laden vehicles," it said.
The ministry is committed to "dealing with this threat... (and) will continue its war on terror." In an address to the nation after being sworn in to succeed Saleh on February 25, President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi vowed to fight against Al-Qaeda and restore security across the impoverished nation, ancestral homeland of slain jihadist leader Osama bin Laden.
Shortly after his speech, a suicide attack against a presidential palace in the mostly lawless southeastern province of Hadramawt killed 26 Republican Guard troops. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility.
The violence highlights the security challenges facing Hadi as he tries to restore order and unify the country's armed forces, as stipulated by a Gulf-brokered transition accord that ended Saleh's rule.
Saleh, a US ally in its "war on terror", handed power to Hadi based on the deal, which was hailed by world powers as Yemen's only exit from a year-long uprising that left the country's economy in tatters and aggravated the dire security situation.
Al-Qaeda and their local affiliates have launched near daily attacks since February on security forces and police in Bayda, as well as the provinces of Shabwa and Hadramawt in the south and east of the country.