Yemen defense minister survives car bombing, 12 killed

SANA'A, YEMEN (BNO NEWS) -- Yemeni Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed on Tuesday narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when a car bomber attacked his motorcade in the country's capital of Sana'a, just a day after the government announced the killing of al-Qaeda's deputy regional head.

The attack happened when Nasser Ahmed's motorcade was traveling behind the building of Sana'a radio, located not far from the Cabinet's headquarters where the senior official had attended the weekly cabinet meeting. The powerful blast completely destroyed a vehicle carrying security personnel, but the minister was traveling in another vehicle.

Interior Minister Abdul Qader Qahtan said on state television that twelve people were killed in the attack, including seven security guards and five civilians. At least fourteen civilians were also injured, the state-run SABA news agency reported, without giving details about their condition.

European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton strongly condemned the attack, saying Nasser Ahmed has played a key role in the fight against al-Qaeda and the implementation of a political agreement brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) last year. "[Ashton] recalls that the EU is deeply concerned by all attempts to derail Yemen's transition and is committed to assist President Hadi in implementing the political transition in Yemen," her spokesperson said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Tuesday's attack came just a day after Yemen's defense ministry announced the death of Saudi national Said al-Shihri, who was previously released from Guantanamo Bay and later became the deputy commander of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He and six other militants were said to have been killed in an operation in the remote eastern province of Hadhramaut.

Yemen is currently undergoing a transition process after a popular uprising erupted in the country last year, similar to protests seen in other countries across the Middle East and North Africa. Yemen held presidential elections in February, resulting in a victory for the country's new leader Abd Rabbuh Mansur Al-Hadi.

In May, at least 120 people were killed and more than 350 others were injured when a suicide bomber wearing an army uniform blew himself up during a military parade rehearsal at al-Sabeen square in Sana'a. Most of the victims were from Yemen's Central Security Forces in what was one of the worst ever suicide bombings in the history of Yemen. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility.

(Copyright 2012 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

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