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Yemen defense minister survives death plot

One of Yemen's top officials has survived an attempt on his life. The assassination attempt follows the announcement that one of al Qaeda's top leaders in Yemen was killed.

Yemen's Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed survived an apparent assassination attempt in the form of a car bomb on Tuesday, according to government sources.

The bomb exploded outside the prime minister's offices in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, on Tuesday, claiming the lives of at least five bodyguards.

The attack followed the death of Said al-Shehri, the number two leader of al Qaeda's branch in Yemen (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula- AQAP), during a government raid in Hadramout Province, located in the country's east, last week.

Al-Shehri, a Saudi national, had previously been detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay, but was released in 2007 and handed over to Saudi Arabia, where he went through a rehabilitation program.

Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri also confirmed via video on Tuesday that Abu Yahya al-Libi had been killed in a drone strike in Pakistan. The militant is believed to have played a key role in the group’s operations.

"I proudly announce to the Muslim umma and to the mujdahideen [holy fighters] the news of the martyrdom of Libya's lion Sheikh Hassan Mohammed Qaed," Zawahiri announced in the video.

Yemensank into chaos during the 2011 popular uprising that led to the ousting of leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, a close ally in Washington's campaign against al Qaeda militants. AQAP exploited that chaos to seize larges swathes of the country.

Since President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi took the reigns of power in February, Yemen has launched a major offensive against AQAP, considered al Qaeda's most dangerous branch by Washington.

Washingtonhas also ramped up its campaign of drone strikes in Yemen, targeting senior leaders of AQAP.

sej/mz (AFP, dpa, Reuters)