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Yemen Defense Minister Escapes al-Qaida Ambush: Military

May. 9, 2014 - 02:59PM   |  
Yemenis gather at the site of a bombing that targeted an army vehicle on its way to man a checkpoint near two Western embassies on May 9 in Sanaa. A separate attack on May 9 targeted the country's defense minister. (Mohammed Huwais/AFP via Getty Images)
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ADEN — Yemeni Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmad and two senior security officers escaped unhurt when their convoy was ambushed on Friday by al-Qaida fighters in the south, a military source said.

Ahmad, intelligence chief Ali Hassan al-Ahmadi and military police chief Awad Majwar al-Awlaqi were travelling from Abyan province to Shabwa province, when they came under fire, the source said.

The source said none of the top brass was hurt in the attack that came as they were returning from a trip to monitor an ongoing army offensive against jihadists in Yemen's restive south.

Clashes erupted after the ambush and lasted 15 minutes, the source said.

It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties among the assailants.

The attack came hours after a nightime operation in the capital, in which security forces killed an al-Qaida commander suspected of masterminding a wave of kidnap bids targeting Western diplomats.

Hours later, a bombing in Sanaa's diplomatic neighborhood wounded 11 police officers.

The defense minister, in a statement published earlier Friday, vowed to crush al-Qaida fighters in Yemen.

The ground offensive began on April 29 in Shabwa, Abyan and Baida provinces, where a wave of US drone strikes killed scores of suspected al-Qaida militants last month.

On Thursday, the army said it entered the town of Azzan, the second largest in Shabwa and a major stronghold of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is seen by the United States as the network's deadliest franchise.

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