WASHINGTON: Al Qaeda has announced the death of an important regional commander in Yemen who had threatened Western targets and narrowly escaped capture in 2010, a US monitoring group reported Thursday.

Muhammad al-Hanq died from illness on March 4, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) announced in a communique issued on jihadist forums and picked up by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist websites.

Hanq was reported killed in January 2010, when his threats forced the closure of foreign embassies in Sanaa, but it later emerged that the regional al Qaeda commander survived a clash in his Arhab region, outside the capital.

"The Sheikh died on his bed after storming fields of death, and he escaped several times from certain death at the hands of his enemies among the crusaders and their henchmen, who lied in wait for him over the past years."

Al Qaeda linked militants in Yemen have seized several towns and cities in the country's south and east, including the port of Zinjibar, in the wake of mass protests against Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime last year. (AFP)