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In a separate attack outside San’a, a Yemeni security guard shot and killed a Frenchman working for the French engineering firm SPIE that is under contract with the Austrian oil and gas company OMV.

A British national was also wounded in the attack and was hospitalized.

Yemeni authorities confirmed the attack and said the security guard was arrested and charged with the shooting. The suspect, Hisham Assem, was contracted to OMV through a private security company.

Pascal Omnes, a SPIE spokesman, said the slain man worked as a logistics and procurement manager.

SPIE, which in Yemen has about 100 employees who hail from about 20 countries, has instructed all non-essential personnel to return home as soon as possible — an order affecting about 15 to 20 people, Mr. Omnes said. He said the company has also raised its internal security alert level in the country.

The motive for the attack was under investigation, but OMV — an oil exploration and production company and has been active in Yemen since 2003 — said it “currently sees no political background for the action.”

Yemen says it is waging an aggressive campaign to uproot al Qaeda, and Washington has earmarked some $150 million in military assistance to the government to help combat the threat with training, equipment and intelligence help.

Mr. Burns said Tuesday that the U.S. will continue to support San’a in its fight against terrorism.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of Osama bin Laden’s terror network, was formed more than a year ago when Yemen and Saudi militant groups merged. Al Qaeda fighters are believed to have built up strongholds in remote parts of the country, allying with powerful tribes that resent the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Nigerian suspect in the failed Christmas Day plot to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner has said he received training from al Qaeda militants in Yemen, according to U.S. investigators. In February, the offshoot’s military commander, Qassim al-Raimi, warned of further attacks against Americans.

Associated Press writers Danica Kirka and David Stringer contributed to this report from London.