Source: AFP 21/04/2010
SANAA — Yemeni authorities arrested three alleged Al-Qaeda members accused of killing two policemen and blowing up an official's vehicle in the southern province of Abyan, the defence ministry said Wednesday.
The three men, identified as Mujib Hafsah, Mohammed al-Bakawi and Mohammed Ismail, were arrested in the southern province of Aden on Sunday, the ministry's news website 26sep.net said, citing a security source.
They are accused of blowing up the car of a local government official on April 19, while Bakawi and Ismail are also suspected of killing two policemen, the website said.
"During interrogations, the suspects admitted that they were appointed by Khaled Abdulnabi, a member of Al-Qaeda in Abyan province," it said.
Abdulnabi was a leading member of the Aden-Abyan Islamic army, an armed group which was active in the south before it went into oblivion a few years ago.
The region of Abyan, part of the former South Yemen republic, has over the past years become a regrouping base for Islamist militants, including Arab veterans of the 1980s war in Afghanistan against Soviet occupation.
Yemen is the ancestral homeland of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and has been the scene of several attacks claimed by the group on foreign missions, tourist sites and oil installations.
The group has suffered setbacks amid US pressure on Sanaa to crack down but its presence threatens to turn Yemen into a base for training and plotting attacks, a top US counter-terrorism official said in September.
The rugged terrain of Yemen, which stretches over 529,000 square kilometres (204,248 square miles), provides ideal cover for armed groups.