ADEN, Yemen — Two militants from an Al-Qaeda linked group on Monday killed a man in the provincial capital of Huj who they accused of being gay, a police source said Tuesday.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that that the militants, who belong to Ansar al-Sharia group, opened fire on 20-year-old Hashem al-Asmi, adding that the gunmen fled on their motorbike after killing him.
Ansar al-Sharia is the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda and is still active in remote parts of the country.
Security officials say at least 33 people have been killed in similar attacks in the past two years. Most of the extrajudicial killings took place in the southern province of Abyan in 2011 when al-Qaida was in control of large swaths of territory.
Although the Yemeni government troops have since recaptured much of the territory with support from U.S. drone strikes, the group still has several active bases in east of the country, often carrying hit-and-run attacks using unlicensed motorbikes.
Ansar al-Sharia imposes a strict version of sharia (Islamic law) on residents who live under their control, executing or lashing citizens they accused of various crimes, including severing the hands of many accused of burglary.
Homosexuality is illegal in Yemen, and it is one of only seven countries to apply a death penalty for consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex.
Aljazeera Online reported in May 2004 that three journalists had been punished by a Yemeni court for writing an article about homosexuality that included interviews with men jailed for homosexuality (May 15 2004).
The court ruled that the journalists had “violated Yemeni morals and customs.”