SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Gunmen in Yemen's capital opened fire on three French security guards working with the European Union mission on Monday, killing one with some ten gunshots and wounding another, Interior Ministry officials said.
They said the gunmen attacked as the group was getting into their sport utility vehicle outside their office, not far from the French embassy and near the residence of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, riddling the car with bullets. The wounded security guard is in critical condition.
The cause of the attack is not yet known, but suspected al-Qaida militants have killed several foreigners in Yemen over the past two years and abductions for ransom are frequent in the impoverished country.
France and the EU condemned the attack, with Paris confirming that one of its citizens employed by a private security company working with the EU mission was killed and another compatriot wounded. A Yemeni driver was also wounded, the French Foreign Ministry added.
"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," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.
In Dec. 2013, insurgents killed two German aid workers and a Yemeni colleague working for Germany's state-linked GIZ aid organization, and two months earlier unknown gunmen killed a German embassy guard in an attack on a diplomatic vehicle in Sanaa.
In another attack earlier Monday, suspected al-Qaida militants killed a security officer in a drive-by shooting in the capital, Sanaa. Security officials said the attackers opened fire from a car in downtown, killing Mohammed Qawza of the Defense Ministry's linguistics institute. The assailants fled the scene of the shooting.
The officials said that also on Monday, a roadside bomb targeted a military bus in Sanaa's Old City, wounding two passers-by. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. The U.S.-backed Yemeni army has been trying to defeat al-Qaida's local branch, considered the terror network's most active.
Hundreds of journalists, writers, poets and others rallied in Sanaa on Monday in support of the army's campaigns against al-Qaida.
With reporting by AP writers Greg Keller in Paris and Juergen Baetz in Brussels.