Update: The murdered tourists were women.
This is terrible. A guy opened fire on a group of tourists and killed them in cold blood in an unsophisticated attack targeting the economy as much as the foreigners. The attack follows a web statement calling for more releases. The prior attack in Marib in July that killed seven Spanish tourists also followed a web statement with the same demands.
It could be:
a) a fanatical guy who wants to cleanse Yemen of the infidels defiling it b) senior al-Qaeda using terror attacks as a bargaining chip with Saleh c) a disenfranchised splinter group on its own path rejecting the alliance with Saleh d) somehow related to the Southern protests e) or possibly tribal says the Belgian FM
For the first time: foreign tourists killed in Hadramout?
Exclusive – Yemenonline – Two Belgian tourists and a Yemeni driver were killed by anonymous people on Friday afternoon in Hadrmaout’s Ghar Sawdi area. Other two including a tourist and a Yemeni tourist guide were injured. In a telephone call, Hadramout governor Taha Hajar told Yemen on Line that unknown people trapped a car boarding Belgian tourists killing two of them and injuring another. A Yemeni driver was killed as well and his fellow guide was injured. Hagar also noted that security authorities in collaboration with army have closed all the outlets leading to the area where the incident took place. Further, helicopters were recalled to hunt for the perpetrators. Special sources indicated that security sources sought the help of a helicopter to remove the corpses from the crime scene, hinting the injured were rushed to Al-Hajreen Hospital. The attack is timed with unprecedented and intense political situation in southern provinces, particularly Aden and Hadramout. It is note-mentioning that foreign tourists were attacked by what is known to be Aden-Abyan’s Islamic Army in Abyan governorate’s Hatat area in December 1998 and several British tourists were killed then. Some observers believe the incident is connected with the recent developments witnessed in the southern areas.
Two Belgian tourists shot dead in Yemen
SANAA (AFP) — Two Belgian tourists were among three people killed, with four more Belgians wounded, when gunmen opened fire on them in Yemen’s Hadramut province on Friday, a local official told AFP.
The tourists’ Yemeni driver was also killed by the unknown attackers in the southeastern province of the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state.
The attackers were said to have targetted the tourists in the province’s Do’an Valley, before fleeing the scene in a car.
The tourists were travelling to the historic city of Shibam, which lies around 450 kilometres (280 miles) east of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.
The 16th century city has been dubbed the “Manhattan of the Desert” for its distinctive, tower-like structures.
Last July, seven Spanish tourists and two local drivers were killed when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into their convoy at an ancient temple in Yemen. Six Spaniards, two Yemeni drivers and four police guards escorting them were wounded.
That bombing was the worst attack against Westerners in the Arabian peninsula country since Al-Qaeda extremists struck the USS Cole off the southern port of Aden in 2000, killing 17 US sailors.
Al-Qaeda has been blamed for a series of attacks in Yemen, the ancestral homeland of its leader, Osama bin Laden. Some of them predated the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
Yemen announced in December that it had foiled an Al-Qaeda suicide attack in the country and captured two members of a terrorist cell in Sanaa. It said they were wanted in connection with a number of security cases.
The Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda recently announced in an internet statement that it would carry out operations to free imprisoned members of its group held in the country.
The killing of tourists in Yemen is rare, but foreigners are frequently seized by powerful tribes for use as bargaining chips in disputes with the central government. More than 200 have been abducted during the past 15 years.
All have been freed unharmed except for three Britons and an Australian seized by Islamist militants in December 1998. They were killed when security forces stormed the kidnappers’ hideout.
SANAA, Yemen — Gunmen opened fire on a tourist convoy Friday afternoon in the eastern Hadramawt region, killing two Belgian women and two Yemeni drivers, Yemeni officials said.
The attack was the first aimed at foreigners in Yemen since last summer, when a suicide car bomber attacked a group of tourists visiting a temple in central Yemen, killing eight Spaniards and two Yemenis.
The Yemeni state news agency identified the Belgian women as Klaudi Klawy and Catharine Glory. One of the drivers was identified as Ahmed al Amiri. Their bodies were being flown back to the capital Friday night.
The attack took place in the Wadi Dawan district, about 180 miles east of Sanaa. Four gunmen waiting in a pickup truck near a speed bump along a rural road ambushed a four-car tourist convoy, said a tourist official who asked not to be identified. Two Belgians and one Yemeni were also wounded.
The attackers then fled, said Yemen’s tourist minister, Nabeel al Faqih.
The area where the attacks occurred, near a famous group of ancient multistory mud dwellings in the town of Shibam, is not considered especially dangerous. There have been kidnappings in the area, but they have subsided in recent years after a government crackdown.
Al Qaeda in Yemen has claimed a number of recent attacks, including the killing of the Spanish tourists in Marib. In recent days Internet statements purporting to be from al Qaeda in Yemen have issued threats.
The Yemeni government’s statements on Friday hinted that al Qaeda might be responsible for the latest attack. But one government official said it was not yet clear who was to blame, and added that it was possible the attack was related to recent unrest in the south, where demonstrations by former military officers have spread into a broader antigovernment movement and triggered periodic violence. Last Sunday, police fired on demonstrators in the southern city of Aden, killing two.
The Yemeni government has also been fighting a sporadic war against rebels in the northwestern Saada province, where violence has erupted again over the past week after months of relative quiet.
A dangerous country
Karel De Gucht, the Belgian foreign minister, said the two women killed in the attack should have known the risks.
“Someone who leaves for Yemen knows that it is a dangerous destination,” De Gucht told a press conference in Brussels.
“When you travel with a group specialising in adventure holidays, you also know that there is a risk.”
Belgium’s foreign ministry website warns against non-essential travel to Yemen, explaining that “the permanent terrorist threat must be taken very seriously in this country”.
Yemeni officials said the attackers were believed to be from a group of al-Qaeda fighters hiding in the valley.
But in Belgium, De Gucht did not confirm any al-Qaeda link with the attack.
“The region is known for its Islamist extremism but we have no indication that al-Qaeda or any other extremist group was involved,” he said, adding that the area also had “tribal problems”.
“We are asking the [Yemeni] authorities to shed light on the attack, but it’s not easy. The authorities do not control the territory,” he said.
Attacks on tourists
Tourists often travel through the Wadi Dawan on route to see Shibam, a historic town of mud-brick houses, some as many as nine stories high.
An interior ministry official, quoted anonymously by the Associated Press, said that Yemeni authorities had received email and telephone threats of imminent attacks over the past two days.
The official said al-Qaida militants were pushing for the release of jailed comrades.
In July, a suicide bombing killed seven Spanish tourists and wounded six at a historic site in the Arab country. Two Yemenis were also killed.
EU calls on Yemen to bring the murderers to justice. Good luck.