Sana’a: Unidentified gunmen shot dead a military adviser to Yemen’s defence ministry, an Iraqi national, in central Sana’a on Tuesday, a security official said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the victim, Khalid Hatem Al Hashemi was killed when “two gunmen on a motorbike” fired “two bullets” into his head as they drove past him.

The official said the assailants managed to escape.

It is believed that many Iraqi military officers who served under Saddam Hussain fled to Yemen after the fall of his regime and took jobs as military and defence advisers to the Yemeni government.

So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the killing but Al Qaida has been blamed for a spate of attacks on Yemeni security officials, both in the capital and throughout the country.

Yemen’s unity government, created to lead a political transition after the removal of veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh in February, is struggling to maintain control in an increasingly divided country plagued by lawlessness and militancy.

The government has also been slow to restructure the weak and fractured security forces that have long been dominated by Saleh loyalists.