Source: Xinhua, 20/05/2012
SANAA- A group of U.S. counterterrorism experts were attacked by suspected al-Qaida militants in Yemen's western port city of al-Hodayda on Sunday, one expert being seriously wounded, officials said.
"A number of militants from suspected al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) opened fire on a group of U.S. counterterrorism experts when they were training Yemeni coastal guards in the western port city of al-Hodayda," a Yemeni security official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
"One of them was hit in the neck and airlifted to the capital Sanaa for treatment," he said.
An official at the U.S. embassy in Sanaa confirmed to Xinhua the attack. "The attack took place on Sunday morning while the U.S. experts were training Yemeni coastal guards," the official said, denying reports that U.S. soldiers had arrived in the city to prepare for fighting against al-Qaida.
On the same day, an official from the Interior Ministry told Xinhua anonymously that "a newly-arrived Spanish security official at the Spanish embassy in Sanaa was snatched on Sunday by al-Qaida suspects." But he declined to provide further details.
Officials at the Spanish embassy in Sanaa could not be reached for comment.
With the support of U.S. experts and drones, the Yemeni government has launched an "all-out offensive" against al-Qaida militants for nine days in the southern province of Abyan.
The ongoing fighting has left more than two hundred people from both sides killed, while thousands of civilians have fled to neighboring provinces of Aden and Lahj.
The attack against U.S. experts came one day after chief of U.S. Special Operations Forces General Ken Tovo met with Yemeni officials in Sanaa to discuses ongoing joint-military operations against the AQAP which exploited one-year unrest to expand control over several cities in Yemen's southern regions.
Meanwhile, military officials said on Sunday that at least 10 anti-Qaida militiamen and 18 terrorists were killed during fierce battles overnight in the outskirts of the insurgents-controlled town of Jaar in Abyan.
However, witnesses and residents told Xinhua that more than 100 soldiers were killed during the overnight battles, as the al-Qaida militants forced the army to retreat about 30 kilometers from Jaar to areas near neighboring province of Lahj.