By LAURA KASINOF
October 28, 2011
TAIZ, Yemen — The head of counterterrorism in the southern port city of Aden was killed Friday after a car bomb exploded beneath his vehicle, according to a senior security official.
A government statement from the official Saba news agency on Friday said that Maj. Ali al-Haji, identified as a battalion commander in the Central Security Forces, was killed when driving through a market near the Arish area of Aden, Yemen’s second-largest city. However, the security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Major Haji was the head of counterterrorism, a specialized department within the Central Security Forces.
“Terrorists placed an explosive device in the car of the martyr al-Haji and when he returned home from work to his house the bomb exploded,” the Saba statement said, adding that two children described as bystanders were wounded in the attack.
Although Aden is not as accustomed to the type of urban warfare that broke out in the northern capital, Sana, in recent weeks, its security forces have repeatedly been the targets in the last several months of attacks similar to Saturday’s. The government usually accuses Al Qaeda of being behind these attacks.
In nearby Abyan Province, Islamic militants linked to Al Qaeda took over the provincial capital Zinjibar last spring, and Aden’s residents say they fear that militants are infiltrating their city as the security situation in southern Yemen deteriorates.
Central government control in Yemen has weakened ever since the government tried to quell the country’s 10-month-old protest movement, which started as part of the Arab Spring uprisings. Protesters have called for the ouster of Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who remains the leader of the impoverished country, despite international calls for him to leave office immediately.