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6 Oct, 2013 14:27

German embassy bodyguard shot dead in Yemen

German embassy bodyguard shot dead in Yemen

A German national was shot to death in Yemen’s capital on Sunday. Yemen denied earlier reports that this was a part of plot to kidnap the German ambassador.

Gunmen in a passing vehicle opened fire on the victim as he was leaving a shop in the Hada district of the capital of Sana’a where most of the foreign embassies are located. He was protecting Carola Müller-Holtkemper, the German ambassador to Yemen. 

However, Yemen has denied that she was the target of the kidnapping and said that the gunmen were after the bodyguard.

Ambassador Carola Mueller-Holtkemper is "currently outside the country. Apparently there was an attempt to kidnap her bodyguard and he was shot dead when he resisted," a Yemeni foreign ministry spokesman told AFP.

He was leaving the market to go to his vehicle,” a source told Reuters, adding that the attack bore the hallmarks of Al-Qaeda. 

The German Foreign Ministry in Berlin and German embassy employees in Sanaa have declined to comment.

Western diplomatic sources have confirmed the attack but have not given the victim’s identity or what position he held at the embassy. 

Policemen and ambulance personnel gather outside a supermarket after a shooting in Sanaa October 6, 2013. (Reuters / Mohamed al-Sayaghi)

Germany was among a number of Western countries, which closed their embassies in Yemen in August following warnings of an Al-Qaeda attack, although the missions soon reopened. 

Yemen is battling to curb one of the most active branches of Al-Qaeda in the world, which is known as AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) and in the past has attempted to attack several western targets including airliners. 

In November last year a Saudi diplomat was shot dead by a gunman believed to be working for AQAP.

Just last month, at least 30 Yemeni military were killed in a double car bombing and a suicide attack. The incidents took place in the troubled Shabwa province in the south of Yemen, which regularly sees clashes between extremist Islamist fighters and Yemeni security forces. 

On Sunday AQAP released a statement saying it was behind an attack last week on an army base in the south of the country in protest at the Yemeni military’s cooperation with the US.

In a separate attack on Sunday, kidnappers seized an African employee of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) as he was on route from Sanaa to the Red Sea town of Hudaidah, diplomatic sources told AFP.