SANAA : Two gunmen on a motorbike on Tuesday shot dead a Russian military expert and wounded another as they left a hotel in the Yemeni capital, a security official said.
The gunmen fled after opening fire on the experts, who worked as advisors to the Yemeni army, the official said.
The Russian embassy said no advisors were officially seconded to the Yemeni army as military cooperation between the two countries is suspended, but suggested the experts could be operating privately.
The Russians were gunned down as they walked out of a hotel in Baynouna street in southern Sanaa. Security forces immediately cordoned off the scene of the attack.
Witnesses said that the two were felled by shots to their chests.
The two men were dressed in civilian clothes, hotel manager Mohammed al-Shami said, adding that they were waiting for two other Russian colleagues to come out to share a taxi.
The four experts have been staying at the hotel for some four months, he said.
“We heard the shooting. When we rushed out, we found the two in a pool of blood,” Shami said.
Two vehicles from the nearby presidential palace arrived around 10 minutes after the attack and took away the casualties and the two other advisors.
Many Russian experts are believed to serve as advisors to the Yemeni army, which uses Russian and Chinese weapons.
The Russian embassy in Sanaa told Russian Interfax agency that it had no information about the attack.
“It is difficult to tell, because despite the fact that military cooperation is suspended, people can come under private contracts,” the agency cited a source at the embassy as saying.
Hit-and-run assassinations are frequent in Yemen and are mostly blamed on Al-Qaeda militants, or stem from tribal and political conflicts.
Last week, a Yemeni MP representing the Zaidi Shiite rebels was shot dead in a similar attack.
Abdel Karim Jadban died after two gunmen riding a motorbike shot him as he walked out of a Sanaa mosque.
A German guard of Berlin’s mission in Sanaa was killed last month as he resisted an attempt to kidnap him.
Yemen has been fighting its way through a tough political transition since the former veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh was ousted from power in February 2012, following a year of deadly protests against his 33-year rule.
The transition is expected to culminate in a new constitution and pave the way for parliamentary and presidential polls in February 2014, but it faces many hurdles, mainly over the fate of the formerly independent southern regions, and Shiite rebels in the north.
The country is also battling against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is classified by Washington as the most dangerous arm of the jihadist network.