By Nasser Arrabyee/21/09/2010
A Yemeni tribal sheikh said Tuesday that Al Qaeda fighters who are being cornered in a mountainous area in south Yemen threatened to kill him if he did not stop trying to negotiate with them.
“ I tried to contact with them for negotiations, but they told me to stay away from them, and they said they would kill me to closer to Allah (God) if I do not stop trying to talk to them,” Sheikh Hassan Ba Hanhan of Al Huta said.
The Yemeni government troops have been blockading about 50 Al Qaeda fighters including Saudis and top leaders in the village of Al Huta in Mayfa’a district of the southern province of Shabwa since last Saturday.
At least four Al Qaeda fighters and four soldiers were killed and several others injured according to official and medical sources on Tuesday. This group being corned is accused of trying to bomb 320km long pipe line extending from Mareb province Shabwa, the country’s 5 billion US $ gas project.
Using all kinds of weapons including tanks and fighter jets and helicopters, the army and American- trained special forces is preparing for a big battle to clean Shabwa from the Al Qaeda militants.
The Yemeni-American cleric Anwar Al Awlaki, the most wanted for CIA, alive or dead, is believed to be fighting with this group in Al Huta which is about 100 Km from his village Al Awalik.
Earlier this year the prominent Al Qaeda leader in the area of Al Huta , Abdullah Al Mehdar was killed after his group clashed with security forces.
The senior military officials who are leading the battle, want to avoid casualties from among the civilians. Over the last three days they kept calling, using loudspeakers, population to get out from the village.
In the middle of last August, more than 33 people including 15 Al Qaeda fighters and 11 soldiers were killed after a four-day battle in the town of Lawdar, one of the stronghold of Al Qaeda and separatists.
Faraj Baras,from the Red Crescent in Mayfa’a estimated those who already got out until Tuesday at 12,000 people out of the 18,000 population. Baras said that the displaced people need food and shelter assistance.
Local sources said Tuesday that Al Qaeda militants tried to prevent the population from getting from their village to use them as human shields.
On his part, Yaslem Bajanoob, chairman of the local council of Mayfa’a said that some people are hesitant to leave their houses and properties because they are afraid of plundering and looting acts if the army storm the village.
Bajanoob said that the tribesmen held meetings today Tuesday and warned from any looting and plundering of their houses and properties.