Salem Ali Qoton, a Yemeni general who spearheaded a campaign against al-Qaeda in the nation's southern region was killed on Monday (June 18th) by a suicide bomber in Aden, AFP reported.
A Somali national threw himself on Qoton's vehicle and then detonated his explosives, killing Qoton and two of his aides, according to a report on the Yemeni Defence Ministry's website.
Qoton, who led the campaign against al-Qaeda, forced the group to withdraw from several cities in Abyan and Shabwa provinces, which al-Qaeda had controlled since last year.
In March, newly elected President Abd Rabbu Mansur Hadi appointed Qoton to become the military commander in south Yemen. The move followed a power transition agreement when former president Ali Abdullah Saleh quit and Hadi was required to restructure the Yemeni army.
Senior army commander and former aide Ali Mansur described Qoton's death as "a huge loss for Yemen and its efforts to fight al-Qaeda," giving Qoton full credit for the government's recent victories.
The attack "bears the hallmark of al-Qaeda", he told AFP, although no group has immediately claimed responsibility.
In the past week, al-Qaeda has withdrawn from their three main strongholds in Abyan, including the capital Zinjibar and the towns of Jaar and Shuqra. On Sunday, terrorists fled from the town of Azzan in Shabwa province, said deputy mayor Yaslam Bajanoub.