Yemeni authorities said on Tuesday that a leading member of al-Qaeda in Yemen was killed as police raided an al-Qaeda hide-out in the south-eastern province of Hadhramout, dpa reported.
Official sources said that Hamza al-Quaiti, a suspected mastermind of several terror attacks that hit Yemen in recent months, was among five al-Qaeda suspects killed in a gun battle with police forces in Tarim town of Hadhramout on Monday.
Two other suspects were injured and arrested by police in Monday's shootout. Two police officers were killed in the clash.
The shootout erupted as police forces raided a house sheltering the suspects in the town of Tarim, some 900 kilometres south-east of the capital Sana'a.
A web site run by the defence ministry quoted unnamed official sources as saying that police seized a cache of explosives, including 40 bags of gun powder, explosive devices, hand grenades, machineguns and gas cylinders.
Al-Quaiti was among 10 al-Qaeda fugitives wanted by authorities for his alleged role in plotting car bomb attacks, including the July 2007 bombing of a travel convoy that left eight Spanish tourists dead.
He fled a high-security prison in Sana'a in February 2006 along with 22 other al-Qaeda operative. Their escape dealt a major blow to Yemen's efforts in the fight against al-Qaeda.
The officials said the group was behind the recent terror attacks, including four car bomb attacks and the shooting attack against Belgian tourists.
The most recent attack blamed on the group was the July 25 suicide car bomb attack against the police complex in Sayoun city of Hadhramout that killed and policeman and wounded 18 including seven women.
An al-Qaeda wing in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out in retaliation for the killing of five al- Qaeda members by police forces in Yemen.
Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for three recent car bomb attacks in Yemen, including the July 2007 attack on a tourist convoy in the central province of Marib that killed eight Spanish tourists.
In September 2006, two al-Qaeda suicide attackers blew up an explosives-laden pickup in the Safer oil refinery in the north- central province of Marib. A simultaneous bombing hit an oil exporting port in Hadhramout, killing a security guard and two suicide attackers.
Hadhramout was the scene of a shooting attack on a convoy of Belgian tourists that left two Belgian women and two Yemeni drivers dead on January 18. Al-Qaeda also claimed responsibility for the attack.