The chief of U.S. embassy security investigation team in Yemen was assassinated on Thursday near his house in the capital Sana’a by masked motorists as heading for work.
Qassem Aqlan, who worked at the embassy for more than a decade, was a victim of the latest wave of attacks on officials in Yemen as the Yemeni government joins forces with Washington to exterminate the rising Islamist militancy in the country.
“This operation has the fingerprints of al-Qaeda which carried out similar operations before,” said an unidentified source to Reuters.
The growth of Yemen-based al-Qaeda and other militant groups have gained more control over parts of the country during the uprising movement against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh earlier this year.
Fahad, a neighbor of Aqlan, said he had noticed strangers roaming the streets over the past three days, suggesting Aqlan was being watched before the attack.
The victim’s neighbor said in an interview with Reuters that Aqlan was leaving for work as men roared his name and shot him in the head and neck as he turned towards the noise.
Aqlan partook in the investigation regarding the attack on the U.S. embassy as furious protestors attacked the embassy over the anti-Islam film produced in the United States.
“We are aware of the reports of this tragic incident and our embassy in Sana’a is working with the Yemeni authorities,” said a spokeswoman for White House National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, in Washington.
A senior State Department official said: “We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident involving a Yemeni employee of our embassy.”
There have been a number of killings and assassination attempts on security officials and politicians since Yemen’s army drove Islamist fighters out of several southern towns earlier this year, Reuters reported.
The U.S. is on alert towards the increasing power of al-Qaeda in Yemen.