x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Briton killed in South Yemen car bombing, say police

Intelligence officer says murderous bombing attack on shipping company employee in Aden carries the fingerprints of Al Qaeda.

ADEN // A Briton was killed in a car bombing today in the main southern Yemeni city of Aden, police said, in an attack that an intelligence officer said carried the fingerprints of Al Qaeda.

The Briton, who was identified by Yemen State TV as David John, who was working as a marine surveyor, was killed by a bomb in his car in the Moalla area near a hotel where his company has an office, the police official said.

An intelligence officer told AFP: "The operation carries the fingerprints of Al Qaeda."

Police did not let journalists approach the site of the blast.

Other sources described the dead man as a "British military expert" . One senior security official in Aden said that he highly believes that Al Qaeda was behind the attack and that a bomb was hidden under Briton's vehicle. "The way the attack took place only proves that Al Qaeda has been watching his moves days prior to the attack."

The security official said that the Briton worked for a major Yemeni company and that the explosive went off immediately after he turned on his vehicle.

Witness Abdullah Al Sharafi told AFP: "I heard the explosion, I hurried there and I found the car in pieces and a charred body."

Attacks are relatively rare in Aden, which remains generally calm despite deadly unrest in other southern provinces that have seen repeated clashes between suspected Al Qaeda militants and security forces.

In neighbouring Abyan province, militants believed to be linked to Al Qaeda took over much of the provincial capital, Zinjibar, in late May, and have been battling security forces ever since, displacing thousands of residents.

Aden was a British protectorate until 1967. It used to be one of the world's most important ports.

There have been a number of attacks against Western targets in Yemen, the most infamous of which was a waterborne suicide attack in 2000 against the warship USS Cole in Aden, in which 17 US sailors were killed and 38 wounded.

Britons have been targeted in more recent attacks, including on April 26, 2010, when the British ambassador to Yemen narrowly escaped being killed when a car bomb hit his convoy in Sanaa.

Then, on October 6 last year, a rocket-propelled grenade hit a British embassy car in Sanaa, wounding three people, including a diplomat.

Later the same month, two parcel bombs were discovered en route to the United States, one in Britain and the other in Dubai. Neither went off. The plot was claimed by Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Yemen is the ancestral homeland of the former Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a US commando raid in Pakistan on May 2.

US commanders have repeatedly expressed concern that the jihadists have been taking advantage of a protracted power vacuum in Sanaa to expand their operations.

Since January, protesters have been demanding the departure of veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in hospital in Saudi Arabia since early June receiving treatment for wounds sustained in a blast at his palace.

He appeared on television on July 7 for the first time since the attack, heavily bandaged.

Three days later, he was shown on television receiving John Brennan, the top counter-terrorism adviser to the US president, Barack Obama. Mr Saleh was in better shape than in his earlier appearance, although burns were still visible on his face.

Yemen's deputy information minister, Abdo Al Janadi, said on Saturday that Mr Saleh will return home "soon", but the opposition has joined forces with rebels in both the north and the south of the country in a bid to block his resumption of power.

* With AFP