Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Qaeda claims Yemen attacks: US monitoring group

Source: AFP, 09/09/2010

SANAA — Al-Qaeda has said it carried out a series of attacks on security forces in Yemen, including deadly clashes in the restive south, a US-based group that monitors Islamist websites reported.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the jihadist network's local affiliate, put out three statements saying that it was behind the violence, the SITE Intelligence Group said late on Tuesday.

The militants said they carried out six recent attacks in Abyan province in the south, including an assault on an army post in the town of Jaar in late August in which 11 soldiers and a civilian were killed.

They claimed the August 27 assassination of Mohammed Faree, deputy director of criminal investigation unit in Marib, east of the capital Sanaa.

And they claimed a prominent role in deadly clashes in the Abyan province town of Loder last month that exiled southern leaders had said involved autonomist and pro-independence activists.

Al-Qaeda said its militants killed 50 soldiers in the clashes and suffered no losses of their own.

Three days of intense fighting in Loder killed at least 33 people, 19 of them militants, according to an AFP tally based on official and hospital reports.

The United States has expressed growing concern about the presence of Al-Qaeda in impoverished Yemen, Osama bin Laden's ancestral homeland.

Last week, US officials revealed that Central Command, which is in charge of US forces across the region from the Horn of Africa to Afghanistan, was seeking 1.2 billion dollars over the next five years to beef up Yemeni security forces.

In a report released last month, however, Amnesty International warned that the Yemeni government was abusing the threat from Al-Qaeda as an excuse to clamp down on internal dissent.

"An extremely worrying trend has developed where the Yemeni authorities ... have been citing national security as a pretext to deal with opposition and stifle all criticism," the London-based human rights watchdog's Middle East and North Africa director, Malcolm Smart, said.

Yemeni officials have charged that southern activists have made common cause with Al-Qaeda, something their leaders strongly deny.

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