Guard kills French head of Austria's OMV in Yemen: officials

6th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

The French head of Austrian energy group OMV's Yemen operations was shot dead by a soldier on Wednesday at a company compound near Sanaa, security officials said.

"The armed guard opened fire on the director, crying Allah Akbar (God is greatest)," one of the officials said, without specifying whether the attack was motivated by personal or other reasons.

The soldier, who was guarding the group's Yemen headquarters in Haddah on the outskirts of Sanaa, was disarmed and arrested, other officials said, adding that he was being interrogated.

The headquarters were surrounded by police following the attack.

The French foreign ministry confirmed that a Frenchman working for OMV in Yemen had been shot dead.

The ministry "confirms the death by shooting of a French national working for SPIE, subcontracted to the Austrian company OMV at Sanaa in Yemen," it said a statement.

The French embassy in Sanaa and the foreign ministry's own crisis centre had been mobilised to support the dead man's relatives and to work with Yemeni authorities to establish what led to the death, it added.

OMV officials, contacted by AFP, declined to give any details about the circumstances of the attack.

The company has had a sizeable presence in Yemen since it acquired the German firm Preussag Energie in 2003, with three large exploration and production licenses 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 southeast Shabwa province, which killed six soldiers and two jihadists.

The firm, which has dozens of Austrian engineers working in the region, said the attack took place between 20 and 30 kilometres (12 to 20 miles) from the field, but insisted there were no indication that it was a "direct attack" on OMV.

© 2010 AFP

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