(MENAFN - Arab News) Yemen offered a 25,000 reward yesterday for help in catching the killers of a Saudi diplomat a day after he was gunned down in an attack that security authorities blamed on Al-Qaeda.
The killing on Wednesday of Khaled Al-Anezi, assistant military attache at the Saudi Embassy in Sanaa, and his Yemeni bodyguard underscored the challenges facing Yemen since an uprising last year that ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
A Yemeni security committee offered a reward of 5 million rials ( 25,000) for any information on the killers, state news agency Saba said.
The diplomat's body was seen off at Sanaa Airport yesterday by Yemeni Defense Minister Muhammad Nasser Ahmed, Interior Minister Abdul Qader Qahtan and other senior officials.
Defense minister Ahmed said the attack would not affect Saudi-Yemeni ties. He described the gunmen as those who have lost their religious, moral and human values.
Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Ali bin Muhammad Al-Hamdan, who was present at the airport, said the incident would not deter the Kingdom from supporting its neighbor.
He called for joint efforts by Saudi Arabia and Yemen to confront terrorism. Al-Anezi's body was flown to the Kingdom after funeral prayers at the airport and a guard of honor by the Yemeni forces. Al-Anezi's body was brought to Qassim, where his family lives.
Dressed as security officers, the attackers blocked a car carrying Al-Anezi, an aide to the Saudi military attache, and opened fire, the security committee said in a statement. The diplomat and his guard died instantly.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack which took place near the diplomat's house in the capital but a Yemeni security official said Wednesday authorities were "assuming that Al-Qaeda was behind it."
Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), regarded as Al-Qaeda's strongest regional wing, has mounted operations in Saudi Arabia and tried to launch attacks against the United States.
"The threats are always there and they usually come from Al-Qaeda in Yemen," Ambassador Al-Hamdan told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
The shooting took place when Al-Anezi was going to office in Hada district that houses foreign embassies and diplomatic missions.
Witnesses said the gunmen were following the diplomat in a vehicle.
According to unofficial sources, quoted by the Dammam-based Al-Sharq newspaper, the gunmen were traveling in a vehicle belonged to a judge and that police are investigating the relation between the judge and the gunmen.
According to one report, there were four gunmen in a white Landcruiser jeep that followed the Saudi diplomat on Wednesday, adding that the diplomat's bodyguard was carrying a Kalashnikov.
"The gunmen got out of the vehicle and fired at the bodyguard, who later died in hospital from his wounds," the source said. He identified the bodyguard as Jalal Mubarak Shaiban who worked with a security service agency.
According to witnesses Al-Anezi had tried to run away but the gunmen sprayed bullets on him while his vehicle overturned several times.
Yemeni Interior Minister Abdul Qader Qahtan said the gunmen had used fake number plates for their vehicle. "We are continuing our efforts to catch the killers," he said. "We have beefed up security around diplomatic missions."
Ali Al-Sumaili, Saudi cultural attach, urged Yemeni authorities to provide adequate security for Saudi diplomats.
The General People's Congress in Yemen condemned the murder and urged Yemeni security authorities to track down and punish the killers.
"We strongly denounce this attack," said Abdul Qawi Al-Shumairy, a senior official of the party. He commended Saudi Arabia's support to Yemen. "We should reciprocate to this Saudi gesture by love and appreciation not by killing or kidnapping," he said.
Al-Shumairy urged religious leaders in Yemen to stand up against criminals who target diplomats of foreign countries. Abdullah Al-Khalidi, Saudi deputy consul in Yemen, who was kidnapped earlier this year, still remains in captivity in Aden.
Ambassadors of 10 countries involved in Yemen Initiative have condemned the attack and conveyed their condolences to the families of the diplomat and his guard.