Yemen gunmen shoot dead senior security officer

ADEN Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:31am EST

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ADEN (Reuters) - Gunmen shot dead a senior Yemeni security officer on Sunday, a security official said, the latest in a series of attacks on the police and army in a country battling Islamist insurgents.

Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed Amir al-Mahthouthi, a senior officer in the investigative branch of state security, was shot outside his home in Hadramout, eastern Yemen, by gunmen who then fled on a motorbike.

The authorities have blamed al Qaeda and its local ally Ansar al-Sharia for carrying out hundreds of similar killings of police and army officers over the past two years.

Hadramout, a center of Yemen's modest oil production, has also been hit by sporadic fighting between government forces and a big tribal confederation, after a senior tribesman was killed in a shootout at an army checkpoint in December.

Security in Yemen is closely watched by Western and neighbouring Gulf countries because of its proximity to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and the presence there of an al Qaeda branch that has plotted bomb attacks against international airlines.

(Reporting by Reyam Mukhashaf; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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