* Attackers in a car open fire
* Al Qaeda strengthened grip on Yemen during revolt
* Saudi is a main donor to Yemen, backer of government
SANAA, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Gunmen shot dead a Saudi diplomat
and his Yemeni bodyguard in Yemen's capital Sanaa on Wednesday
in an attack a local security source said appeared to be the
work of al Qaeda.
The killing, the latest attack on security officials and
politicians in the U.S.-allied state, underscores the challenges
facing Yemen since an uprising that began last year toppled
President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Attackers in a four-wheel drive vehicle opened fire on a car
carrying Whaled al-Enizi, an aide to the Saudi military attache,
near his house in a neighbourhood of Sanaa, a Yemeni security
official said. The diplomat and his Yemeni guard died instantly.
No one has claimed responsibility but the security official
said authorities were "assuming that al Qaeda was behind it".
"If this is the case, it would be the first time al Qaeda
has used a car to carry out an assassination," he said. The
official said previously militants have used motorbikes, often
without licence plates.
AQAP, regarded as al Qaeda's strongest regional wing, has
mounted operations in Saudi Arabia and tried to launch attacks
against the United States.
Restoring stability in Yemen is an international priority
because of its strategic position adjoining not only oil
exporter Saudi Arabia but also major shipping lanes.
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi took over as head of state
in a Gulf-brokered power-transfer deal in February, and later
Yemen's army drove Islamist fighters out of southern strongholds
in a military operation backed by the United States.
Washington has also stepped up drone strikes on suspected
A Saudi official at the Foreign Ministry in Riyadh confirmed
the Enizi's killing, the state news agency SPA said.
The Saudis are a major donor to their poor neighbour and
hosted the signing of the deal for Hadi to take power.
Hadi, in a call to Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed
bin Nayef, described the attackers as "terrorists" and vowed to
bring them to justice, the state news agency Saba said.
In October, masked gunmen shot dead a Yemeni man who worked
in the security office of the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, weeks after
Abdulilah Al-Ashwal, a senior intelligence official, was killed
in a drive-by shooting in the capital.
Islamists linked to al Qaeda are still holding the deputy
consul at the Saudi mission in the southern city of Aden, whom
they seized in March. They have demanded a ransom and the
release of women prisoners held in the kingdom.