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At least five killed in Yemen mosque shooting

Latest update : 2008-05-30

A gunman killed at least five people inside a mosque in a village north of Sanaa just a day after the authorities announced they had broken up an al Qaeda cell in the Yemeni capital and arrested 11 suspects.

Five people were killed when a gunman described as "mentally unbalanced" opened fire inside a mosque in a village north of the Yemeni capital during Friday prayers, an official told AFP.

"A man opened fire on worshippers in a mosque in the village of Kahal (60 kilometres or 40 miles north of Sanaa), killing five people," the official said.

Twelve people were also wounded in the attack, 10 in serious condition, he said.

"The person behind the shooting was arrested and has been taken for questioning," the official said.

He declined to identify the suspect but said he "is believed to be mentally unbalanced."

It was the second deadly attack on a mosque in Yemen this month.

On May 2, 18 people, mostly soldiers, were killed when a booby-trapped motorcycle exploded at the entrance to a mosque in an attack blamed on Shiite rebels who have been waging a four-year uprising against the government.

The attack took place in the northwestern town of Saada in the province where most of the clashes between the Zaidi rebels and government forces.

Friday's shooting also occurred just a day after the authorities announced they had broken up an Al-Qaeda cell in the capital Sanaa and arrested 11 suspects.

Yemen, ancestral homeland of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and one of the poorest counties on the planet, has battled suspected Al-Qaeda militants at Washington's behest since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

Al-Qaeda's wing in Yemen, which calls itself Jund Al-Yemen Brigades, has carried out a series of attacks in recent months targeting the US and Italian embassies and a residential complex which is home to US oil workers.

In one of the deadliest attacks against foreigners in recent years, eight Spanish tourists were killed and six wounded when a suicide-bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a convoy at an ancient temple in July last year in the northeastern region of Marib.

The authorities have been battling since 2004 to put down the uprising by Shiite Zaidi rebels and clashes have erupted despite efforts to organise peace talks.

Thousands of people have been killed since the on-off rebellion first broke out in 2004, with most of the fighting taking place in the mountains of Saada province, near the border with Saudi Arabia.


Date created : 2008-05-30