Yemeni security officials are reporting a gunman has assassinated the Yemeni chief of security at the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa.
The officials say Qassem Aqlani, who was in his fifties, was shot dead while on his way to work early on Thursday. Aqlani had reportedly been working for the U.S. Embassy in the capital of Yemen for nearly 20 years.
Reuters reports a gunman on a motorcycle opened fire on Algani’s official vehicle before fleeing the scene. A U.S. Embassy official tells CBS News the slaying occurred off of the grounds of the embassy. Two weeks ago, another top intelligence official, Col. Abdullah al-Ashwal, was also killed in a drive-by shooting in Sanaa.
The attack comes as Yemen's U.S.-backed government is waging an offensive against Al-Qaeda's branch in the country. Washington considers the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) the most dangerous offshoot of the terror network. The network has taken advantage of a security and political vacuum created by last year Arab Spring-inspired uprising and seized territories and cities in the south.
There has reportedly been fierce fighting between the Yemeni government and militants as the government fights to take back territory and cities in the south that the terror group seized last year. The government-led offensive has pushed the militants out to mountainous areas from where they have been staging suicide attacks and assassinations inside cities.
The attack comes a day after a Yemeni official reported that security forces have detained a U.S. citizen suspected of having links to al-Qaida. Authorities say a man carrying two U.S. passports and a German one, was arrested in a hotel in the southern city of Shabwa, an al-Qaida stronghold until a military offensive earlier this year pushed the militants into the surrounding mountains.
The attack is the latest in a series of attacks against U.S. Embassies in the region.