Yemen top adviser escapes assassination

Yassin Said Noman’s bulletproof vehicle helped him avoid sniper attack

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An adviser to the Yemeni president has escaped an assassination attempt, the latest of a wave of bombings and shootings to hit the country, the government said on Sunday.

“Targeting such a well-known political personality and important national figure is targeting the move towards reform that Yemen is currently undergoing,” the official Saba news agency quoted the government as saying.

A sniper fired shots with a weapon equipped with a silencer on Saturday at Yassin Said Noman’s car as it was driving through the capital Sanaa, the agency said.

Noman is an adviser to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a vice president of Yemen’s National Dialogue talks and secretary general of the Socialist Party.

The bullet did not hit Noman as the vehicle was armored, the agency explained.

Initial information showed the sniper had been on top of a mosque near Noman’s home and shot at the roof of his car, aiming for his head, it said.

Earlier on Sunday, gunmen also shot dead two senior security officials in separate ambushes in other areas of Yemen.

Meanwhile, Yemen’s LNG gas company has evacuated hundreds of workers from its Balhaf terminal on the Gulf of Aden after a mortar round hit the site, Agence France-Presse reported an oil ministry official and employees as saying on Sunday.

Company staff, including foreigners, were evacuated to the capital on four planes as a precaution over fears of potential attacks on the terminal, employees said.

The evacuation of non-essential staff, however, did not affect operations and liquefaction trains, which have a capacity of 6.7 million tonnes of LNG per year, the ministry official said.

He said the plant employs some 1,200 staff and that the partial evacuation was decided after a mortar shell hit the port.

Yemen LNG said a “minor explosion occurred” inside the plant on Friday, adding that the blast caused only slight damage to non-essential equipment and that a probe has been initiated.

The Yemeni army deployed reinforcements around the sprawling site, where LNG exports were launched in 2009, military sources said.

Yemen under attack

Members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are usually blamed for hit-and-run strikes on military personnel and officials that have intensified across the country.

The Yemeni interim government is currently facing myriad of challenges. It is grappling with southern secessionists, al-Qaeda-linked militants and northern Houthi rebels, as well as economic issues inherited from Saleh’s rule.

On Thursday, an al-Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility for an attack on the Yemeni Defense Ministry on Thursday in which at least 56 people were killed and more than 200 wounded.

The scale of attacks has changed from the targeting and assassinations of officials to direct attack of a government buildings.

To prevent “shoot and scoot” attacks, the government started enforcing a temporary ban on motorbikes in the capital during national dialogue sessions aimed for reconciliation.

The interior ministry said the ban will last until December 15 to “preserve security and stability” as Yemen undergoes a difficult political transition.

Yemen is experiencing a tough political transition since President Ali Abdullah Saleh was ousted in Feb. 2012 after a year of deadly protests against his 33-year rule.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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