Suspected al Qaeda gunmen assaulted two south Yemen security offices on Wednesday in coordinated shooting attacks, killing at least two people and setting off heavy fighting, police said.
Witnesses reached in the town of Zinjibar told Reuters they had seen five people believed dead on the street. Both the headquarters of the General Security agency and the office of an intelligence agency handling political security were attacked in the town.
“A large number of gunmen attacked the political security and the General Security offices at the beginning of the work day. Security guards fired on them, and there are dead and wounded on the scene,” a police source said. “It is believed that the attackers were members of al Qaeda,” he added.
Several people wounded in the attack were taken to hospital and at least two were proclaimed dead, police said.
The assault was the second by suspected al Qaeda gunmen on security offices in Yemen in less than a month. In June, al Qaeda attackers raided the southern regional headquarters of the political security office in the port city of Aden, killing 11 people. Al Qaeda called it revenge for a government assault.
Yemen, next to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, leapt to the forefront of Western security concerns after a Yemen-based regional al Qaeda wing claimed responsibility for a failed attempt to bomb a U.S.-bound airliner in December.
Yemen’s Western and Saudi allies want Sanaa, also trying to cement a northern truce and quell southern separatism, to resolve domestic conflicts and consolidate power so that it can focus on fighting al Qaeda.
Yemen escalated a crackdown on al Qaeda this year, and further stepped up security measures after accusing al Qaeda of being behind the June attack.