DUBAI | Fri Jul 20, 2012
(Reuters) - A gunman shot dead a Yemeni security official in the southern province of Baydha, the defence ministry said on Friday, in an attack it blamed on the country's wing of al Qaeda.
The attacker killed Ghazi Said Abdallah Baidha of Yemen's political security service in the town of Radda late on Thursday, then fled on a motorcycle driven by an accomplice, an unidentified official said on a ministry website.
It was the latest in a string of assassinations of security officials in southern Yemen, where al Qaeda-linked Islamists established a foothold during the 14-month uprising that erupted against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh last year.
The town was briefly held by Islamists earlier this year, as were several others in another southern province that Islamists seized during the revolt against Saleh.
Oil giant Saudi Arabia and the United States - both targets of abortive attacks by Yemen's al Qaeda wing - backed a power transfer that replaced Saleh with his deputy in February.
Saleh's successor Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took office vowing to reunify the military and fight al Qaeda. He launched a U.S.-backed military offensive in May that drove Islamist fighters out of towns they controlled in the country's southern provinces.
Washington has increased "counter-terrorism" activity in Yemen since Hadi came to power and has targeted al Qaeda figures with drone and missile strikes.