(SANAA, Yemen) — A U.S. embassy security team leader from Yemen was reportedly gunned down on his way to work Thursday in the Yemeni capital.
Qassem Aqlan, who headed a team tasked with protecting the American compound in the unstable nation, was killed by an unidentified gunman in Sanaa.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident involving a Yemeni employee of our embassy in Sanaa and we are working with Yemeni authorities,” a senior State Department official told reporters.
Aqlan’s death comes a month after four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in a terrorist attack on a diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
In a dramatic Congressional hearing Wednesday, State Department officials faced tough questions about whether it had failed to respond to concerns about the security of its staff in Libya, an obviously violent nation, before the attack.
U.S. officials have said the Benghazi attack may be linked to Ansar al-Sharia, a militant group with ties to the al Qaeda affiliate al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Though no groups have claimed responsibility for the murder in Yemen, officials there say the attack is characteristic of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), BBC News reports.
In recent years, top U.S. officials have said regional affiliates of the terrorist group, especially AQAP and AQIM, pose a greater threat to the U.S. homeland and American interests abroad than the “core” al Qaeda group that was led by Osama bin Laden before his death last May.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN