Gunman in Yemen kills 3 working at American oil rig

Dead include Canadian, American

motive unclear

March 19, 2003|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

DOHA, Qatar - A Yemeni gunman killed an American, a Canadian and a Yemeni worker at an American oil rig in northern Yemen yesterday and then killed himself, the Hunt Oil Co. said. A Canadian worker was wounded.

A State Department official said it was not immediately clear whether the attack was "politically motivated" or linked to the increasing likelihood of war with Iraq.

Americans working in the Middle East have been warned of the heightened risk of terrorism as American-led troops in the Persian Gulf region prepare for hostilities against Baghdad. Last weekend, the State Department told nonessential workers at several American embassies in the region to leave.

Yemen, the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden, has entered into an uneasy alliance with the Bush administration in the campaign against terror. Yemen has received $100 million in American aid for antiterror activities but remains an attractive hiding place for Islamic militants.

Hunt Oil, which is based in Dallas, said it would not release the name of the slain American, a supervisor on the rig, until relatives had been notified. The Canadians worked for Nabors Drilling USA of Dallas, one of the biggest oil-drilling contractors in the United States.

The president of Nabors, Siegfried Meissner, said the gunman had worked nine years as a carpenter for the company. Meissner said he believed the attack was a "stand-alone event" unrelated to al-Qaida or any organized terror group.

Meissner said the attacker had walked into the office of the Hunt Oil supervisor carrying a firearm of some kind.

A Hunt Oil spokesman, Jim Oberwetter, said the American was shot first, and then the two Canadians. The wounded Canadian was flown to a hospital in San`a, the capital, where he was reported to be in critical condition.

Oberwetter said the attacker fled after the shootings but was pursued by a Yemeni worker, whom the gunman killed just before turning his weapon on himself.

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