-ANI): Three military pilots of the Yemeni air forces were shot dead by suspected al-Qaida gunmen in the restive southern province of Lahj on Wednesday morning, a government official told Xinhua.
Two al-Qaida gunmen on a motorbike opened fire on a car that carrying the three military pilots to workplace at the Anad air base, the local government official said on condition of anonymity, adding that the three pilots were shot dead at the scene.
"All the three victims were high-ranking officers of the air force and working at the Anad military air base located in Lahj province," the government source said.
The assailants managed to flee the scene after conducting the drive-by shooting.
Yemeni security services have repeatedly blamed militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaida offshoot for a series of assassination attacks, mostly in the country's southern regions.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which emerged in January 2009, is considered the most strategic threat to the Yemeni government and its neighboring oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
The AQAP underscores the challenges faced by Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who came to power after winning support from major Yemeni political forces, the United States and Saudi Arabia in February 2012.
Hadi is tasked with restoring security and stability to Yemen and putting an end to growing influence of al-Qaida that also threatens daily oil shipping routes in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. (Xinhua-ANI)