French security guard on EU mission shot dead in Yemen

Photo: French security guard on EU mission shot dead in Yemen / Arab World

A French security guard working with the European Union mission in Yemen's capital has been shot and killed by unknown gunmen. Foreigners have increasingly come under attack in Sanaa, Deutsche Welle reported.

The security agent was gunned down Monday in an attack which also wounded a second French national and a Yemeni driver, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

"We have learnt with indignation and sadness of the death of a French national in Sanaa, victim of a shooting while on mission for the European Union delegation in Yemen" said Fabius, adding that "France strongly condemns this act."

French President Francois Hollande called it a "cowardly attack."

"In liaison with Yemen's authorities, the state will use all its powers to shine a light on circumstances of this odious act so that its authors are rapidly identified," Hollande said.

Private security firm Argus Security Projects confirmed it was one if its staff members that was killed by the "heavily armed" assailants.

"We are deeply sad to announce the death of one of our colleagues, while the other colleague has been seriously injured and is currently being treated," the company, which is based in Cyprus, said in a statement.

The shooting also drew condemnation from the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who called on authorities in Sanaa to restore security.

"The EU's presence in Yemen aims only to assist the country in its transition to democracy and in its economic development. To target persons engaged in this effort is evil and senseless," Ashton said.

The motive for the attack, which occurred on a street in Sanaa's diplomatic quarter near the French embassy, is not yet known.

In a separate attack also on Monday, security officer Mohammed Qauzia was killed in a drive-by shooting near his workplace, a military language school. A roadside bomb exploded near a military bus in Saana, but there were no reports of fatalities.

Yemen is the base of al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula. In the past, militants suspected to be linked with al Qaeda have killed several foreigners, diplomats and Yemeni security forces. Abductions for ransom are also frequent.

In December 2013, two German aid workers and a Yemeni colleague were among those killed in an attack on a defense ministry compound.

Yemen's army is currently involved in an offensive against al Qaeda in the country's south. It follows a series of air strikes which have killed dozens of militants in last month.

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