Sana’a: Security forces have arrested a “dangerous” Al Qaida chief in southern Yemen who took part in several attacks, state news agency Saba reported.
The agency, citing police, said Sulaiman Hassan Mohammad Morshad Awadh, also known as Abu Osama Al Abiye, was “one of the most dangerous members of Al Qaida and involved in several terrorist operations.”
Awadh, whose name figured on a wanted list, was arrested in Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province, it said, without giving details.
Before a counter-offensive by the army earlier this year, Al Qaida held large swathes of southern Yemen. But since its loss of a string of towns near the port city of Aden in June, most have fled into desert regions farther east.
Although weakened, they continue to launch hit-and-run attacks on government and civilian targets across Yemen.
Meanwhile, Yemen offered a $25,000 (Dh91,825) reward on Thursday for help in catching the killers of a Saudi Arabian diplomat, a day after he was gunned down in an attack that security authorities blamed on Al Qaida.
The killing on Wednesday of Khalid Al Enizi, a military attache at the Saudi embassy, and his Yemeni bodyguard underscored the challenges facing the US-allied state since an uprising last year that ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
A Yemeni security committee offered a reward of five million rials ($25,000) for any information leading to the killers, state news agency Saba said.
Dressed as security officers, the attackers blocked a car carrying Al Enizi, an aide to the Saudi military attache, and opened fire, the security committee said in a statement. The diplomat and his guard died instantly.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack which took place near the diplomat’s house in the capital but a Yemeni security official said on Wednesday authorities were “assuming that Al Qaida was behind it”.
Yemen-based Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), regarded as Al Qaida’s strongest regional wing, has mounted operations in Saudi Arabia and tried to launch attacks against the US.
Restoring stability in Yemen is a priority for Washington and its Gulf allies because of its strategic position next to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and major shipping lanes.
“The threats are always there and they usually come from Al Qaida in Yemen,” Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Yemen Ali Al Hamdan told the Saudi-owned Asharq Al Awsat newspaper.
The Saudis are a major donor to their poor neighbour and hosted the signing of a power transfer deal under which President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi took over as head of state in February after Saleh stepped down.
Islamists linked to Al Qaida kidnapped a Saudi deputy consul in the southern city of Aden in March and are still holding him. They have demanded a ransom and the release of women prisoners, believed to be relatives of Al Qaida fighters.