Middle East

Yemen minister survives assassination attempt

Yemen's defence minister has survived an assassination attempt which killed at least 11 people, including seven of his bodyguards, security officials say.

The attack targeting Maj Gen Muhammad Nasir Ahmad took place near government offices in central Sanaa.

The explosion was caused when a car bomb detonated when the minister's motorcade passed.

It comes a day after the second-in-command of Yemen's branch of al-Qaeda was reportedly killed.

"A booby-trapped car waited for the motorcade of the minister near the government offices and, as soon as it moved, it exploded," an unnamed security source told Reuters.

"A security car was totally destroyed and all its occupants were killed, but the minister survived because his car is armoured."

Officials say this is the fourth assassination attempt against the defence minister since a new government was formed last December.

No-one has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, though al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has carried out a number of attacks in the past.

The group was formed in January 2009 by a merger between two regional offshoots of al-Qaeda in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

It blames the defence minister for launching the campaign that drove them from their strongholds in the south of the country.

Its second-in-command, Said al-Shihri, a Saudi national released by the US from detention in Guantanamo Bay in 2007, was on Monday reported to have been killed during an operation in the south.