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Minister escapes assassination attempt in Yemen

By Hakim Almasmari, For CNN
updated 11:45 AM EST, Tue January 31, 2012
A file picture shows Yemen's Information Minister Ali Ahmed al-Amrani.
A file picture shows Yemen's Information Minister Ali Ahmed al-Amrani.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The minister has been the target of a hate campaign, his aide says
  • There were at least two gunmen, witnesses say
  • Pro-democracy protests have been going on for months in Yemen

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Yemen's information minister escaped an assassination attempt unharmed Tuesday, his office manager said.

The minister, Ali al-Amrani, was headed to the prime minister's office when the attack occurred, spokesman Abdul Basit al-Qaedi told CNN.

At least 10 bullets were shot in the direction of the vehicle al-Amrani was getting into, al-Qaedi said. Three bullets hit the back window and trunk of the car, he added.

Witnesses said there were at least two gunmen.

Al-Amrani was not hurt in the attack, al-Qaedi said.

The minister's office said al-Amrani has been targeted recently in a hate campaign by pro-revolution groups.

"A number of factions in the country started a hate campaign against the minister and threats were given to him in the past," said al-Qaedi.

Yemen's Interior Ministry told CNN the attack is under investigation, but there are no prime suspects.

Last week, al-Amrani received a death threat by an anonymous caller from a Saudi telephone number, al-Qaedi said.

The minister recently launched a massive presidential campaign to support candidate Abdurabu Hadi, the country's current vice president.

Al-Amrani told CNN the country is facing a critical time for change and all Yemenis must stand together to support Hadi.

Yemen has been beset with demonstrations against President Ali Abdullah Saleh since early last year, when pro-democratic uprisings spread across the Arab world.

Demonstrators have continued their protests against the president, despite a power transfer deal that leads to his departure.

Under the plan, Saleh -- who's been in office for 33 years -- will step down after the February 21 elections and will receive immunity under the plan forged by the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Executive powers have already been transferred to Hadi.

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