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Yemeni officials launched an investigation into the accidental killing of Marib deputy governor Jabir Ali Al-Shabwani during an operation targeting an al-Qaeda leader earlier this week.
The Monday (May 24th) airstrike that targeted Ali Saeed Jamil, leader of al-Qaeda in the governorate of Marib, resulted in the death of Al-Shabwani and three of his travel companions.
According to Yemeni officials, Al-Shabwani at the time of the strike was engaged in negotiations with the al-Qaeda leader to convince him to surrender.
The incident angered local tribesmen who attacked government buildings in the city of Marib and clashed with security forces, causing injuries on both sides.
Tariq al-Shami, head of the media department of the ruling National Congress Party, told Al-Shorfa the Higher Security Committee has set up a committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the operation and to contain the tense situation between the tribes and security authorities in the governorate.
Al-Shami said the security committee viewed the incident as a "mistake" and expressed its regrets over the killing of al-Shabwani. He said Jamil sustained light injuries following the attacks and escaped but denied that other al-Qaeda members were present at the time of the raid.
Despite the tense situation, he said Yemen will continue "fighting terrorism and tracking down terrorist elements of al-Qaeda who have damaged the interests of the country and the citizens."
Interior Minister Major General Mutahir al-Masri is leading the investigative committee. It also includes the governor of Marib, representatives from government agencies and several tribal leaders. Al-Shami said the committee took measures to help reduce tensions and that calm is returning to the city following several meetings with the tribal leaders.
Following the incident, tribesmen attacked Marib oil pipelines and the city's power station which supplies power to most of the country's governorates. Government offices and city schools were closed because of riots that broke out. The army was deployed on the city's outskirts to ward off any attack against the government complex.
Al-Shabwani belonged to the Obeida tribe, one of the major tribes in Marib. The tribe’s territory sits atop the country's major oil and gas fields.
The tribe's reaction was expected, said political analyst Hassan Al-Zaidi. He warned that such attacks often stir up emotions and could lead to tribes rallying around al-Qaeda and losing faith in the government.
The day after clashes occurred, Al-Masri and Jalal Al-Roweishan, deputy of the National Security Agency, met with tribal leaders at the presidential palace to contain the situation.
According to Abdul Kareem Al-Sayaghi, secretary of the governor of Marib, the meeting participants sought to restore calm. Media reports said the tribesmen gave the government until Friday to finish their investigation.