A car bomb exploded next to the Yemeni defence minister’s motorcade as he departed a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. At least 12 people, including five civilians were killed but Major General Muhammad Nasir Ahmad survived thanks to his armoured vehicle.
The assassination attempt was the fifth against Ahmed, the latest taking place only four months ago.
Nobody claimed immediate responsibility for the attack, but the assassination attempt came only a day after the Yemeni military announced killing Al-Qaeda leader, Sa’id Ali Al-Shihri, the deputy leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Shihri was reportedly shot as part of an operation in the eastern Hadhramaut governorate alongside six other men, according to the Defence Ministry’s report.
However residents Wadi al-Ain district are claiming Al-Shihri was not killed by the military but by a United States drone strike last Wednesday while Al-Shihri was attending a meeting of Ansar Al-Sharia militant group, according to Reuters. Neither the Yemeni government nor the US has commented on the discrepancy of reports.
The Yemeni government has long been condemned for allowing the US to use drones to target Al-Qaeda militants within Yemen, because of accompanying civilian casualties that so often result.
Al-Shihri was previously captured by the US at the Afghan-Pakistan border in December 2001 and was sent in January 2002 to Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. He was repatriated to Saudi Arabia on 9 November 2007 and subsequently enrolled in a US-sponsored rehabilitation and reintegration program for suicide bombers. He was released in January 2009 and immediately travelled to Yemen.
On a related note, Mohamed Al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri’s brother, appeared in a CNN interview on Tuesday, presenting an initiative to mediate between the west and Islamists in a peace deal which might help end the violence of the “war on terror” the US has conducted since 2001.
Additional reporting by Ahmed Aboul Enein
*Correction: The original story incorrectly stated that the Yemeni Interior Minister Abdul Qader Qahtan was killed in the assassination attempt. However, Qahtan was not present at the scene of the bombing.