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Al-Qaeda suspected of ambushing, killing senior Yemeni military officers

Yemen's special police counterterrorism unit on patrol of the streets of Sanaa.
Yemen's special police counterterrorism unit on patrol of the streets of Sanaa.
Police One

On Christmas, suspected al-Qaeda assassins gunned down and killed two senior officers from Yemen's Army in that Arab nation's capital, according to an Israeli intelligence and counterterrorism source who monitors al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Colonel Salem Ghorbani of the Yemeni Republican Guards was shot to death near the al-Sawad Military Base in Sanaa early Tuesday. Another military commander, Brig. Gen. Fadhel al- Zahairy, was assassinated 30 minutes later in the Bab al-Yemen district, the Israeli source said.

Both assassinations were similar in that they were carried out by masked gunmen riding motorcycles, according to the official who requested anonymity.

The two assassinations in Sanaa occurred almost simultaneously with an offensive operation initiated by the army against a cell of saboteurs who allegedly attacked an oil export pipeline in Marib, Yemen.

The Law Enforcement Examiner source reports that hundreds of al-Qaeda terrorists routinely fight alongside the tribal saboteurs.

AQAP confirmed on its official Internet web site that its members are engaged in fierce battles against the Yemeni army in Marib. The terrorists said in a statement that they killed 14 soldiers last week in several ambushes and claimed responsibility for killing a senior military officer along with 11 others in Marib on Dec. 8, 2012.

More than 15 army and security personnel have been assassinated in Sanaa since the beginning of 2012 by motorcycle-riding attackers, for which the government authorities blame the local AQAP.

For example, in October, a squad of terrorists in Sanaa murdered an Iraqi counterterrorism adviser to the Yemeni Defense Ministry and a Yemeni security coordinator who worked at the U.S. embassy in Sanaa.

On June 17, a suicide bomber blew himself up near a military convoy, killing Maj. Gen. Salim Ali Qatan, who was the commanding officer of the military's fight against AQAP radical Islamists in the southern region of Yemen, the Israeli source told the Law Enforcement Examiner.

U.S. counterterrorism, military and police advisors are assisting the Yemeni government's security forces fighting the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and U.S. intelligence operatives are reportedly conducting drone (unmanned aerial vehicle) attacks on specific terrorist enclaves.

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