(CNN) -- An airstrike in Yemen earlier this week killed a leading al Qaeda figure there, a Yemeni government official said Friday.
The official, who is not named because he is not authorized to speak to the media, told CNN that Mohammed Saleh Mohammed Ali Al-Kazemi was killed in an airstrike in the southern province of Abyan on Thursday, along with "scores of operatives."
Al-Kazemi, also known as AbuSaleh Aljadwe, was a deputy in an al Qaeda cell in Abyan, the official said.
The airstrike was accompanied by raids in Abyan and in Yemen's capital Sanaa, state news agency SABA reported Thursday.
"This was the most large scale and substantial attack carried out against al Qaeda in Yemen this year," the official said.
The airstrike targeted a training camp with tents. Yemeni forces surrounded the camp and captured some of the injured and other operatives escaped through the mountainous terrain, the official said.
On Thursday, SABA reported that security forces had killed 34 suspected terrorists and arrested 17 who were linked to al Qaeda.
Believed to be in his late 30s, Al-Kazemi was on a Yemeni most wanted list of 154 al Qaeda-linked militants, the official said.
He was implicated in planning the July 2007 suicide attack that killed nine people, including seven Spanish tourists at the Sun temple in the province of Marib, the official said. No further details about his involvement in that incident were immediately available.
The al Qaeda deputy also provided safe haven to foreign al Qaeda militants operating in Yemen, the official said.
The official also said that Qassim Al-Raymi, the military commander for al Qaeda in Yemen and two "known" accomplices were able to flee before Yemeni forces were able to get to them.
Al Qaeda in Yemen has been a growing concern for the country's government and the United States.
A spokesman for the Yemeni embassy in Washington stressed Friday the need for international assistance in effectively combatting terrorism in the country.
"We continue to invite our international partners to foster economic opportunity and security in Yemen," Mohammed Albasha said. "Law enforcement and counterterrorism assistance programs will strengthen our capabilities and help build expertise at field levels but without development assistance, counterterrorism efforts will be undermined in the long term. We can no longer afford to ignore the connection between poverty and terrorism."