An Iranian diplomat was killed in a drive-by shooting in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Saturday following an apparent failed kidnap attempt, officials in the country have said.
The diplomat, identified as Ali Asghar Assadi, was leaving the Iranian ambassador’s house in Sanaa's southern Hadda neighborhood when assailants opened fire on his car, according to security officials.
“Unidentified assailants in a van fired on the diplomat three times as he was leaving the ambassador’s residence near a shopping centre in Hadda,” a police source told AFP.
Another official said the initial investigation suggested the gunmen first attempted to kidnap the diplomat by stopping his car. When the diplomat resisted, the assailants shot him and fled the area, which is a busy commercial district.
The diplomat, believed to be in charge of administrative affairs at the Iranian embassy, was taken to hospital for emergency treatment, but later died of his wounds, a medic told the news agency.
“He was taken to the operating theatre then transferred to intensive care but died after an hour and half,” said the medic, adding that the diplomat had been “hit in the shoulder, abdomen and stomach”.
No claim of responsibility
There has so far been no claim of responsibility for the attack.
Relations between Iran and Yemen have soured over what Sanaa calls Iranian meddling in its domestic affairs.
But Yemen’s Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi quickly condemned Saturday’s attack, calling it a “terrorist criminal act” that targeted bilateral relations. Al-Qirbi said the two countries want to avoid any attempts to harm relations.
“This operation has targeted the Yemeni-Iranian relations before it targeted the diplomat,” he told the state news agency SANA. He said authorities will purse the culprits and bring them to justice.
Another Iranian diplomat in Yemen was abducted by gunmen in July and remains in captivity. Officials suspect al Qaeda militants to be behind that kidnapping. Negotiations to secure his release have so far failed.
Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch is the world’s most active, using political turmoil in the impoverished Gulf country to strengthen its presence there. The government has been battling the militant groups, with assistance from the US, which has killed a number of suspected members in drone strikes.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)
Date created : 2014-01-18