Monday, 5 July 2010

Soldiers die in eastern Yemen clash with al Qaeda

Source: Reuters

By :Erika Solomon and Tamara

Two soldiers were killed and three wounded in clashes with al Qaeda militants in eastern Yemen on Monday, a day after Shi'ite rebels killed a man in the north, officials said.

A group of militants accused of belonging to al Qaeda attacked the soldiers with a bomb while escaping a siege in eastern Hadramout province, a local official said.

In the north, a man was killed on Sunday for opposing the Houthi rebels, the interior ministry said on its website. A rebel spokesman told Reuters a 70-year-old man was killed in a family dispute that was not political.

Yemen agreed a truce with the northern rebels in February to halt a war that had begun in 2004, displaced 350,000 people, and briefly drew in Riyadh when rebels seized Saudi border areas.

The ceasefire has largely held, but outbreaks of violence threaten to further destabilize the government at a time when it is also trying to subdue southern separatism and fight a resurgent arm of al Qaeda.

Sanaa accused the rebels on Sunday of being slow to implement the truce, saying they had delayed handing over weapons and withdrawing from some positions.

The rebels, who complain of religious and economic discrimination, replied in a statement on their website that they were committed to peace and stability in the region.

"The government since the beginning has not shown a desire for peace and security with any step to resolve the effects of these wars," the statement said, demanding the government release Houthi prisoners as it had promised.

Yemen's Western and Saudi allies want Sanaa to resolve its domestic conflicts and consolidate power so that it can focus on fighting al Qaeda, whose Yemeni arm claimed responsibility for a failed attack on a U.S.-bound plane in December.

Previous truces have not lasted and analysts doubt whether the current ceasefire will hold as long as Houthi complaints of discrimination remain unaddressed

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