Yemen forces kill al-Qaeda ‘kidnap leader’ in night raid

He was killed in an exchange of fire when resisting arrest

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Yemeni security forces killed an al-Qaeda commander suspected of masterminding a wave of kidnap attempts against Western diplomats in a nighttime operation in the capital, a spokesman said on Friday.

Shayef Mohammed Said al-Shabwani was "one of al-Qaeda's most dangerous and wanted commanders... suspected of involvement in abductions and killings of Yemeni police and foreigners," the spokesman told state news agency Saba.

He was stopped in a car close to the presidential palace with four other people, one of whom was also killed in an exchange of fire when they resisted arrest, the spokesman said.

The other three were arrested, two of them wounded, he added.

Security forces have been on high alert in the capital since the army launched a highly publicized offensive against al-Qaeda in its southern strongholds late last month, drawing open threats of retaliation.

On Thursday, troops entered the town of Azzan, the second largest in Shabwa province, from which Shabwani takes his name.

The jihadists had controlled much of Shabwa and hill districts of neighboring Abyan and Baida provinces since 2011.

There has been a wave of kidnap attempts against Western embassy personnel in the capital in recent weeks, some of them deadly.

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