Killer of Frenchman in Yemen acted for 'personal' reasons

8th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

A young security guard who shot dead a Frenchman in Yemen this week appears to have acted for personal and criminal reasons, the Yemeni defence ministry said on Friday.

The unnamed victim, who was a procurement officer for Austrian energy group OMV, was shot at the company's compound in the Yemeni capital on Wednesday, the same day a British embassy car was targeted by a rocket attack that wounded one person.

"It is probable that the murder of the Frenchman ... was for personal reasons and that it was of a criminal nature," the ministry said on its website, without elaborating.

"These conclusions are preliminary, as the inquest against security guard Hisham Mohammed Assem, 19, is still in its early stages," the statement added.

A 65-year-old Scot, said to be OMV's security chief, was also wounded in the attack, the statement said.

On Wednesday, "the armed guard opened fire on the director, crying Allahu Akbar (God is greatest)," a security official said.

OMV confirmed that a contractor employee with French nationality who was working for the company as a procurement officer died in hospital.

It added that a British national, described as an expert who worked at the company's branch office, was wounded in the attack.

At the time, the Austrian firm said it saw "no political background for the action taken by the Yemeni security guard."

The man, who was guarding the company's Yemen headquarters in Haddah, on the outskirts of Sanaa, was disarmed and arrested.

The Austrian group has had a sizeable presence in Yemen since it acquired the German firm Preussag Energie in 2003, with three large exploration and production licences and daily oil output of around 6,500 barrels per day.

In July, Al-Qaeda militants launched an attack near one of the OMV-operated oil fields in the southeastern Shabwa province, which killed six soldiers and two jihadists.

Yemen, the poorest country in the Arabian peninsula and the ancestral homeland of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's, faces a growing threat from the local branch of the jihadist network.

© 2010 AFP

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