updated 10/13/2010 1:26:43 PM ET 2010-10-13T17:26:43

A Yemeni intelligence commander has survived an assassination attempt by alleged al-Qaida militants in the country's southeast, a security official said Wednesday.

The official said gunmen on motorcycles shot Brig. Gen. Riyadh el-Khatabi, the deputy intelligence chief in the town Sayoun in Hadramut province. El-Khatabi was rushed to the hospital Wednesday in critical condition.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media, blamed al-Qaida's Yemeni offshoot for the attack.

Officials say al-Qaida fighters in Yemen appear to be turning more frequently to drive-by shootings as a tactic to target top intelligence and counterterrorism officials for assassination.

Yemen's weak central government is wrestling with a growing threat from al-Qaida militants, who are increasing their operations in the impoverished country.

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