Gunmen fired a rocket against a convoy carrying a senior British diplomat in Yemen’s capital yesterday, damaging a car and wounding four people amid heightened fears about growing al-Qaeda influence in the nation.
Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, but Yemeni authorities recently boosted security around embassies in the capital after receiving information that the terror network was planning an attack.
The explosion came a day after a visit by third-ranking US diplomat William Burns to discuss the security situation and less than six months after a suicide bomber attacked the British ambassador’s car in Sana’a.
The attacks have cast doubt on the effectiveness of the Yemeni government’s US-backed campaign against al-Qaeda militants, who have found a haven in parts of the nation where central government control is weak.
The convoy targeted yesterday was carrying the British Embassy’s deputy chief of mission, who was not injured. One other embassy staff member was lightly wounded in the attack, a British Foreign Office official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with department policy.
The embassy’s armored car was struck by shrapnel and three bystanders also were wounded, a Yemeni security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the French head of Austrian energy group OMV’s Yemen operations was killed by an armed guard yesterday at a company compound near Sana’a, security officials said.
“The armed guard opened fire on the director, crying Allah Akbar [God is greatest],” one of the officials said.
The company’s Yemen headquarters, in Haddah on the outskirts of Sana’a, was surrounded by police following the attack, other officials said, adding that the guard had been arrested.