'Qaeda' gunmen kill Yemen intelligence officer

Suspected Al-Qaeda militants shot dead a Yemeni intelligence officer overnight in Mukalla, capital of the southeastern Hadramawt province, a security official told AFP on Saturday.

"Al-Qaeda gunmen on a motorbike opened fire on the officer Ibrahim Bameshel as we was on his way back home, killing him immediately," the official said, adding that the assailants had fled.

Al-Qaeda militants were driven out of most of their strongholds in Yemen's south last June in an all-out offensive by government forces aided by local "resistance committees".

But local sources say jihadists from the Al-Qaeda linked Ansar al-Sharia group have started distributing posters and leaflets in several towns across the province threatening members of the security forces and urging jihad (holy war).

Some of their posters showed pictures of masked gunmen on motorbikes.

Police and army officers come under frequent attack, with authorities blaming Al-Qaeda for the assaults usually carried out by gunmen on unregistered motorbikes.

In a bid to clamp down on the increasing number of such attacks, authorities earlier this year launched a campaign ordering unlicenced bikes off the streets.

The militants took advantage of the weakness of Yemen's central government during a 2011 uprising against now-ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh to seize large swathes of territory across the south, including most of Abyan province, which they controlled for a year.

Yemeni forces continue to hunt Qaeda militants, aided by US drone attacks that target wanted members of the terror network hiding in the vast rugged terrain of the southern Arabian Peninsula country.