Briton killed in Yemen's south

20th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

A British businessman was killed when his booby-trapped car exploded in Yemen's main southern city of Aden on Wednesday, in an attack bearing Al-Qaeda's hallmarks, security officials said.

The man, who was the head of a shipping company, was killed in the Moalla area of Aden near a hotel where his company has an office, a police official said without giving a possible motive for the attack.

An intelligence officer told AFP, however, that the attack "carries the fingerprints of Al-Qaeda."

The British Foreign Office confirmed that one of its nationals had been killed in Yemen.

"We can confirm the death of a British national in Yemen on July 20. We are providing consular assistance to the next of kin," a Foreign Office spokesman told AFP.

"The family have requested the media respect their privacy at this difficult time," he added.

He did not identify the victim.

Police did not let journalists approach the site of the blast.

Witness Abdullah al-Sharafi told AFP: "I heard the explosion, I hurried there and I found the car in pieces and a charred body."

Attacks are relatively rare in Aden, which remains generally calm despite deadly unrest in other southern provinces that have seen repeated clashes between suspected Al-Qaeda militants and security forces.

In neighbouring Abyan province, militants believed to be linked to Al-Qaeda took over much of the provincial capital Zinjibar in late May, and have been battling security forces ever since, displacing thousands of residents.

Aden was a British protectorate until 1967. It used to be one of the world's most important ports.

There have been a number of attacks against Western targets in Yemen, the most infamous of which was a waterborne suicide attack in 2000 against the warship USS Cole in Aden, in which 17 US sailors were killed and 38 wounded.

Britons have been targeted in more recent attacks in Yemen, including on April 26, 2010, when the British ambassador to Yemen narrowly escaped being killed when a car bomb hit his convoy in Sanaa.

Then, on October 6 last year, a rocket-propelled grenade hit a British embassy car in Sanaa, wounding three people, including a diplomat.

Later the same month, two parcel bombs were discovered en route to the United States, one in Britain and the other in Dubai. Neither went off. The plot was claimed by Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Yemen is the ancestral homeland of veteran Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a US commando raid in Pakistan on May 2.

US commanders have repeatedly expressed concern the jihadists have been taking advantage of a protracted power vacuum in Sanaa to expand their operations.

Protesters have since January been demanding the ouster of veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in hospital in Saudi Arabia since early June receiving treatment for wounds sustained in a blast at his palace.

He appeared on television on July 7 for the first time since the attack, heavily bandaged.

Three days later, he was shown on television receiving John Brennan, US President Barack Obama's top counter-terrorism adviser. He was in better shape than in his earlier appearance, although burns were still visible on his face.

Deputy Information Minister Abdo al-Janadi said on Saturday that Saleh will return home "soon" but the opposition has joined forces with rebels in both the north and the south of the country in a bid to block the veteran leader's resumption of power.

© 2011 AFP

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