AQ-Yemen Targets Tourists Again: 2 Belgians Shot Dead

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Hadhramout is not generally a dangerous place, and the existence of al Qaeda there would definitely be a worrisome development. We now have two high-profile attacks against tourist in a row – which supports the theory that AQ-YemenZ has switched target goals from oil installations to foreign civilians. Just as when the Spaniards were killed, the government appears to have also received warnings from the group prior to the event.

Despite what the Belgian Foreign Minister callously said, Hajjarayn is generally not a dangerous area. It is a popular tourist destination, and is famous for its honey. I have been there many times – and it is quite different from Marib, where the Spaniard bombing took place. By hitting in Hadhramout, AQ may be showing that they are not contained by remote desert and mountains, but can strike anywhere within Yemen – even a relatively peaceful area like Hajjarayn.

That fact that the attack was significantly less sophisticated than the attack on the Spaniards is interesting. The car bomb attack in Mareb took much more preparation,  a spotter was also reportedly used. The use of a suicide bomber obviously puts that event on a much higher level than a relatively unsophisticated ambush with AKs – which everyone in Yemen has. This leaves open the distinct possibility that this was not al Qaeda.   

The Mareb Press and Mukalla Today have the terrorist retreating in s Beige Toyota Landcruiser in the direction of Shabwa…which would make sense. If true, it would also suggest that the jihadist elements may not be native to Hadhramout. Hajjarayn lays southwest of the other major tourist attractions in the governorate – and it is the closest one to Shabwa, which lies just to the west.

Two Belgian tourists, two Yemenis shot dead: official

SANAA (AFP) — Two Belgian women tourists were among four people killed, and four more Belgians were wounded, when suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen opened fire on them in Yemen on Friday, a local official told AFP.

The official, who declined to be named, blamed the local branch of the terror network for the attack, in which the tourists’ Yemeni guide and driver were also killed.

The attackers were said to have opened fire on a bus carrying 15 Belgian tourists in the eastern province of Hadramut’s Do’an Valley, before they fled the scene in a car.

In Brussels, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht said the tourists should have known Yemen was a dangerous place to visit.

“Someone who leaves for Yemen knows that it is a dangerous destination,” he said. “When you travel with a group specialising in adventure holidays, you also know that there is a risk.”

One of the Belgian victims was named as 65-year-old Claudine Van Caillie from Bruges. Patrick Coucke, also 65, who was shot in the stomach and seriously wounded, was expected to be flown out of Yemen late Friday.

De Gucht did not confirm any Al-Qaeda link with the attack, adding that the Hadramut area was out of the government’s control and also had “tribal problems”.

The Belgian group was travelling to the city of Shibam, which lies around 450 kilometres (280 miles) east of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

The 16th century city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has been dubbed the “Manhattan of the Desert” for its distinctive, tower-like structures.

Hadramut Governor Taha Hajir said in a statement posted on the defence ministry website that security teams had set up roadblocks and helicopters had been deployed to locate those responsible for the “criminal incident.”

The casualties were transported to a local hospital and arrangements were made to move them on to Sanaa, Hajir added.

Last July, seven Spanish tourists and two local drivers were killed when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into their convoy at an ancient temple in Yemen.

That bombing was the worst attack against Westerners in the Arabian peninsula country since Al-Qaeda extremists struck the USS Cole off the southern port of Aden in 2000, killing 17 US sailors.

Al-Qaeda has been blamed for a series of attacks in Yemen, the ancestral homeland of its leader, Osama bin Laden. Some of them predated the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

Yemen announced in December that it had foiled an Al-Qaeda suicide attack in the country and captured two members of a terrorist cell in Sanaa. It said they were wanted in connection with a number of security cases.

The Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda recently announced in an Internet statement that it would carry out operations to free imprisoned members of its group held in the country.

The killing of tourists in Yemen is rare, but foreigners are frequently seized by powerful tribes for use as bargaining chips in disputes with the central government. More than 200 have been abducted during the past 15 years.

All have been freed unharmed except for three Britons and an Australian seized by Islamist militants in December 1998. They were killed when security forces stormed the kidnappers’ hideout.

Government troops in the impoverished Arabian peninsula state have also been fighting an on-off insurgency led by Shiite rebels in the northwest of the country.

Thousands of people have died since the Zaidi uprising first broke out in 2004 in mountainous Saada province near the border with Saudi Arabia.

AFP

 

Saturday, January 19, 2008 (Yemen)

Suspected Al-Qaida militants opened fire on a convoy of tourists in a remote desert mountain valley on Friday, killing two Belgian women and their Yemeni driver. 

The shooting is the second recent militant attack on foreign tourists in Yemen, the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden.

The two slain women were travelling in a tourist convoy of at least four vehiclesthrough an ancient ruin-filled desert valley called Wadi Daw’an in Yemen’s eastern Hadramut region when the gunmen attacked, a security official said.

The convoy was attacked as it was leaving the ancient town of Hajreen and heading to another nearby historical site in the valley, about 450 kilometres (270 miles) east of the capital, San’a, added the official.

A survivor of the attack, said the convoy was ambushed by four gunmen hiding behind a pickup truck parked by the road, in a phone interview with a Belgium television network.

Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht named one of the victims as Claudine Van Caille, 65, from Bruges and declined to identify the other dead Belgian because the family had not yet been informed.

He named the seriously wounded victim as Patrick Coucke, also 65 and from Bruges, adding that his injuries were not life-threatening and he is expected to be flown out on Friday night.

”This morning, a group of 15 Belgian tourists who were there as part of an organised tour, were attacked on the road to Shibam in northeast Yemen, in the province of Hadramut,” de Gucht told a news conference in Brussels.

”They were attacked and shot at and we are saddened to announce that two were killed,” de Gucht confirmed.

The Foreign Ministry’s web site already has a level 4 travel warning for Yemen (out of 5) ”which means, don’t go there (unless) you necessarily have to go there,” he told the news conference.

He said the warning especially mentioned the region where the attack took place. ”We have indicated very clearly that this was a risky business,” De Gucht added.

Just north of where the incident happened is the ancestral hometown of Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

The area is rich with historical sites and was part of the ancient kingdom of Hadramut that stretched from the southern Arabian Peninsula along the Gulf of Aden east to Oman’s Dhofar region.

Tourists often go through the Wadi Daw’an on route to see Shibam, an ancient town of mud brick houses, some as many as nine stories high.

This was second recent militant attack on foreign tourists in Yemen.

In July, a suicide bomber in an explosives-packed car attacked tourists visiting a temple linked to the ancient Queen of Sheba in central Yemen, killing eight Spaniards and two Yemenis.
Yemeni authorities blamed that attack on an Al-Qaida cell.

A Yemeni Interior Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that authorities have received email and telephone threats of imminent terrorist attacks over the past two days.

The official said that Al-Qaida militants were pushing for the release of jailed comrades. Yemen has long been a centre for militant activity, and Al-Qaida continues to have an active presence despite a government crackdown.

Al-Qaida was also blamed for the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Aden that killed 17 American sailors and the attack on a French oil tanker that killed one person two years later.

The Associated Press

 

Yemen closes land and sea outlets to hunt down terrorists

Friday, 18-January-2008
almotamar.net –
Security forces in Hadramout governorate sought the help of two helicopters to take part in the hunting sown of those who perpetrated the terrorist act against Belgian tourists in Douan area of Hadramout.

Security source on Friday clarified that a few hours after the terrorist act all land and sea outlets in Yemen were closed and watching them was intensified and security forcers were chasing he perpetrators of the criminal act.

The security source also called on the people of Hadramout to cooperate with security forces in the hunting sown operation and to report any information leading to reach the attackers to be arrested and bring them to trial.

On the other hand the interior ministry said Friday the security forces are chasing the attackers who committed the terrorist act that resulted in the death of two Belgian tourists and their two Yemeni divers in Hadramout. The interior ministry source said at 1:30 pm on Friday terrorist elements opened fire on a group of Belgian tourists in Hajrin area, Hadramout governorate, killing two Belgian citizens and a Yemeni driver and injuring others.

  

أخبار الوطن: سائقان يمنيان ضحية هجوم مسلح على قافلة سياحية والجناة يفرون 

الجمعة 18 يناير-كانون الثاني 2008 / مأرب برس – خاص 

قتل ظهر اليوم سائحتين بلجيكيتين وجرحت أخرى فيما أصيب سائقين يمينيين توفي أحدهما لاحقا برصاص مجهولين في محافظة حضرموت بمنطقة الهجرين لتاريخية وتحديدا بالمشهد , وتم إسعاف ألجرحي إلى أحد مستشفيات سيئون

وأكد مصدر أمني رفيع في محافظة حضرموت لـ” مأرب برس ” أن الجناة كانوا يستقلون سيارة شاص حليبي وقد قاموا بمتابعة القافلة السياحية , وأطلقوا عليهم وابلا من النار , وأضاف المصدر أن سيارة الجناة فرت باتجاه محافظة شبوة

ومازالت ألأجهزة ألأمنية في محافظة حضرموت تجري تحرياتها وتحقيقاتها حتى اللحظة لمعرفة ملابسات الحادث ومن يقف ورائه

وفي إضافة لاحقة كشفت مصادر مأرب برس في حضرموت أن الجناة أمطروا بوابل من الرصاص أربع سيارات كانت تمثل قافلة سياحية في منطقة الهجرين التاريخية

وقد تم إرسال طائرة مروحية لمكان الحادث لنقل جثامين القتلى والجرحى

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3 Responses to “AQ-Yemen Targets Tourists Again: 2 Belgians Shot Dead”

  1. Belgian Attack: Images of Victims, Interview with Yemeni Survivor Says:

    […] of tourism. All of them seemed to think that the perpetrators were not from Hadhramout. Something I surmised earlier. However, whether they are speaking from evidence or merely wishful thinking remains to be seen. As […]

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