|map by Evan Centanni (www.polgeonow.com)|
Colonel Salem Ghorbani of the Republican Guards was shot dead near al-Sawad Military barracks in southern Sanaa early Tuesday.
Another official of the Defense Ministry, Brigadier Fadhel al- Zahairy, was gunned down 30 minutes later in Bab al-Yemen district in central Sanaa.
An interior ministry official said the attacks bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida militants.
Both assassinations were carried out by masked gunmen on motorcycles, according to the official, who spoke to Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The incidents in Sanaa occurred simultaneously with a massive offensive launched by the Yemeni army against tribal saboteurs accused of attacking an oil export pipeline in the neighboring province of Marib.
A senior local tribal official in Marib told Xinhua earlier Tuesday that hundreds of al-Qaida militants were fighting alongside the tribal saboteurs.
The al-Qaida wing confirmed on its official media that its militants are engaging in the fierce battles against the army in Marib. The militants said in a statement obtained by Xinhua that they killed 14 soldiers last week in several ambushes and claimed responsibility for killing a senior military officer along with 11 others in Marib on Dec. 8.
More than 15 army and security personnel have been assassinated in Sanaa since the beginning of this year by motor-riding attackers, for which the government authorities blame the local al- Qaida wing.
In October, unidentified gunmen in Sanaa killed an Iraqi counterterrorism adviser to the Yemeni Defense Ministry and a security coordinator between the Yemeni government and the U.S. embassy in Sanaa. The Interior Ministry's investigation reports blamed both assassination acts on al-Qaida.
Yemen has undergone a political transition led by President Abd- Rabbu Mansour Hadi after the stepping down of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh earlier this year.
Restoring security has become Hadi's top priority after last year's unrest allowed the insurgent al-Qaida militants to control swaths of remote land and expand activities to major cities.
Editor: Lu Hui