WASHINGTON — The United States on Monday condemned the killing of an American in Yemen and urged authorities to hold the perpetrators accountable after Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility.
The State Department confirmed that Joel Shrum, an American working for the non-governmental International Training Development Center, was shot dead on Sunday in Taez and said it was working to repatriate his remains.
“We condemn this terrorist act in strongest terms and we express our deepest condolences to his family and his friends,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
“We are urging Yemeni authorities to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous crime,” she said.
A statement attributed to Al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack and accused Shrum of proselytizing Christianity in the Islamic nation.
Waldemar Braun, the director of the non-governmental group, denied the allegations and said Shrum was a development worker who “highly respected” Islam.
Braun said that Muslims and Christians work together at the center which has “continually focused on human development, skill transfer and community development.”
The United States says the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is the most active branch of the global extremist network once led by Osama bin Laden.
Two days before Shrum’s killing, an official said that suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen abducted a Swiss woman elsewhere in Yemen.