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Yemen shooting: Are US embassy officials in the Mideast secure? (+video)

The drive-by shooting that killed a Yemeni security officer assigned to the US Embassy in Sana bore the fingerprints of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has targeted the US in the past.

Gunmen killed a Yemeni man who was en route to his job as the head of security at the US embassy in Sanaa. Deborah Gembara, Reuters, reports.
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Concerns about the security of officials tied to US diplomatic missions in the Middle East – already acute – ratcheted up Thursday with the drive-by shooting of a Yemeni security officer assigned to the US Embassy in Sana.

Officials in Washington said the United States is working closely with Yemeni authorities to determine who killed Qassim Aklan, who had worked for more than a decade as a Yemeni liaison on security issues to the US Embassy in the Yemeni capital.

But the targeted shooting bore the fingerprints of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has stepped up a campaign of assassinations over recent months as the US has pursued government-sanctioned drone attacks on suspected AQAP targets.

“We are coordinating closely with the Yemeni authorities to investigate this attack and to help bring those responsible to justice,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.

AQAP previously has attempted terrorist attacks targeting the US – the foiled Christmas Day 2009 shoe bomber and October 2010 package bombs destined for a Chicago synagogue are two examples – and its successful military operations in Yemen have prompted some officials and terrorism experts to consider it Al Qaeda’s most threatening regional “franchise.”

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