January 4, 2015 / 11:14 AM / 3 years ago

Four fighters from Houthi-led militia die in bombing, army officer shot in Yemen

ADEN, Yemen (Reuters) - A senior army officer was shot dead in southeastern Yemen and four fighters from a Houthi-led militia that controls much of Yemen died in a bomb attack on a guest house south of the capital Sanaa on Sunday, state media reported.

Yemen has been in turmoil since 2011 when an uprising toppled long-time president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The new government has been struggling against violence from al Qaeda and the rise of Shi‘ite Muslim Houthi fighters, who seized Sanaa in September.

State news agency Saba said 25 others from the Popular Committees, a force comprising mainly Houthis tribesmen, were wounded in the explosion in the city of Dhamar, some 100 km (60 miles) south of Sanaa.

“Terrorist elements are likely to have planted the bomb at the entrance of the guesthouse,” the agency said, employing a term often used by the authorities to denote Islamist militants such as al Qaeda in Yemen.

The Yemeni Defence Ministry said on its website that the latest victim, Colonel Hamoud Hussein al-Dharhani, was shot dead on Sunday when he left his house in the city of Ataq in the southeastern Shabwa province.

Yemeni authorities also blame al Qaeda for a campaign of targeted killings in which between up to 350 senior army officers have died in the past three years.

Last week, an intelligence officer identified as Colonel Nasser Ahmed was shot dead while driving in the southern city of al-Bayda, and a general escaped a bomb attack on a road his convoy was traveling on near the city of al-Qatan in eastern Hadramout province.

Also on Sunday, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry in Sofia denied that a Bulgarian man had been arrested in Sanaa along with other foreigners.

The Yemeni Interior Ministry had said on Saturday that police had arrested three foreigners, one of them a Bulgarian national, in Sanaa after one of them was found to have al Qaeda material in his possession.

Reporting by Mohamed Mokhashaf in Aden, Mohammed Ghobari in Sanaa and Angel Krasimirov in Sofia,; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by William Maclean and Raissa Kasolowsky

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