Soldier killed, Frenchman wounded in Yemen attack

AFP , Thursday 3 May 2012

A Yemeni soldier is killed and French security official injured after gunmen attack car in restive country's eastern Hadramawt province

A French security official working for energy company Total was wounded and a Yemeni soldier killed on Tuesday when gunmen attacked their car, medical and oil industry officials said.

The attack took place at Sayun in the eastern province of Hadramawt when the Frenchman was on his way to the airport to return to Sanaa after a mission, said a source in Yemen's oil ministry.

A second soldier, who was also in the car, was wounded, and the casualties were taken to a public hospital in Sayun, a medical official told AFP.

"The Frenchman was hit by three bullets in the thigh. His condition is stable and his life is not in danger," the official said.

The attackers, who were travelling in two vehicles, fired machineguns at the car before fleeing, the ministry said.

Total confirmed the attack in a brief statement given to AFP in Paris, as did Yemen's defence ministry, in a report on its website.

The report said the ministry had launched an investigation into the shooting, which it described as a "terrorist attack," without specifying.

Violence is common in south and southeast Yemen, where so-called "Al-Qaeda militants" have exploited the decline in central government control during anti-regime protests that led to president Ali Abdullah Saleh's resignation in February.

Total has been operating in Yemen since 1987 and has an almost 40 per cent interest in Yemen's Balhaf liquefication plant, an investment worth $4.5 billion, the country's biggest.

Yemen has an oil production of around 300,000 barrels a day, mostly for export.

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