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American Teacher Shot Dead In Yemen

An American teacher has been shot dead allegedly by al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militants in Yemen's second largest city of Taiz, media reports citing officials said late on Sunday.

The American was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle as he was driving to work on Sunday morning. Local media identified him as Joel Shrun, a 28-year-old English language teacher who was deputy director of the Swedish Institute language school.

An al-Qaeda linked Islamist militant group has claimed responsibility for Shrun's killing. The Ansar al-Sharia said in a statement that the attack was "in response to a Western campaign to preach Christianity among Muslims."

Shrun is said to have been living with his family for more than two years in Taiz, located some 120 miles south of capital Sanaa. Taiz has been relatively peaceful when compared to the rest of Yemen, which was rocked by a popular unrest and accompanying inter-tribal conflicts in the past year.

Many foreigners live and work in Taiz, which was the flash point of an year-long uprising that eventually forced Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had been Yemen's President for 33 years, to step down last month.

A Swiss woman was abducted last week by a group of unidentified gunmen in the western Yemeni town of Hodeida on the Red Sea coast. The woman, identified only as a teacher, is believed to have been moved by her captors to Shabwa, a south-central province.

The Swiss Foreign Office has since confirmed the woman's abduction, and said in a statement that it had begun working with Yemeni authorities to get her freed as early as possible.

Although some media reports suggested that the Swiss woman was also abducted by al-Qaeda militants, Yemeni officials have since rejected their claims and are blaming local tribesmen seeking the release of their jailed relatives.

Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militants have established themselves in Yemen's southern and south-eastern regions, taking advantage of the instability triggered by the uprising that eventually ousted Saleh. Currently, the government led by President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Saleh's successor, is struggling to enforce order in the impoverished country on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula.

by RTT Staff Writer

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