SANA, Yemen — Gunmen shot and killed an Iranian diplomat in Yemen's capital in a brazen midday strike on Saturday, an attack that called attention to anger over Iran's role in a bitter sectarian conflict.
The slain diplomat was identified by Iranian officials as an attache at the Iranian embassy, which confirmed the death. It was the second serious incident involving an Iranian envoy in Yemen in seven months; another diplomat was kidnapped in July and remains missing.
Security officials said the killing might have been a botched attempt to abduct the diplomat, who was apparently shot several times when he resisted gunmen who had stopped his vehicle and tried to snatch him away. He was pronounced dead later at a hospital.
The attack took part in the upscale Haddah neighborhood, home to many foreign missions and a heavily trafficked commercial area. The attache had been visiting the Iranian ambassador's residence.
Yemeni officials condemned the attack, which came at a time of tension between Yemen and Iran. The government in Sana has asked officials in Tehran to withhold support for a Shiite separatist movement in Yemen's north; Iran has denied aiding the rebels.
Strategically located, Yemen has been racked by turmoil in recent months, including at least two active insurgencies and unrest stemming from a campaign of U.S. drone strikes aimed at Al Qaeda militants.
The Yemen branch of Al Qaeda is considered one of the most virulent, but the drone strikes have stirred widespread anger after reports of civilian deaths in apparently errant attacks.
Militants have struck back at the government with a campaign of assassinations, the latest of which was that of an intelligence officer killed Thursday in a southern province.