Friday, 3 September 2010

Suspected Qaeda chieftain among nine arrested in Yemen

Source: AFP

Yemeni authorities have arrested nine people, including a suspected local Al-Qaeda leader implicated in armed attacks in the south of the country, the defence ministry news website said on Friday.

Salah Ali Abdullah al-Damani, "one of the dangerous elements of Al-Qaeda wanted by the security forces," was arrested on Thursday in Loder, in Abyan province, website said.

Another suspected Al-Qaeda activist, identified only as Mr Aidha, was arrested in Loder on Friday.

Seven other people were detained in the Loder area on Wednesday and Thursday.
In other developments, a motorcyclist threw a hand grenade at a police post in the neighbouring province of Lahij, but the explosion caused no casualties, a local official and witnesses said.
The attacker fled the scene.

In recent months, attacks against security forces and government officials have increased in south Yemen, where Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the organisation's local branch, is active.

An attack on an army post in Jaar by suspected Al-Qaeda militants on Saturday killed 11 soldiers and a civilian, the interior ministry said.

And Loder was more than a week ago the scene of deadly fighting between the army and alleged Al-Qaeda fighters, who seized a large part of the town for days before being chased out by government forces.

At least 33 people, including 19 militants, were killed in clashes there, according to an AFP tally from official and witness accounts.

The south is also the scene of frequent protests by secessionists and other residents who complain of discrimination by the Sanaa government in the distribution of resources.

An interior ministry official said on Thursday that there was evidence of collusion between Al-Qaeda and southern activists, although the charge is strongly denied by exiled autonomist and pro-independence leaders.

"The investigation into the terrorist crimes perpetrated against security and military forces in Abyan province indicate a coordination between the two parties," an online statement from the ministry said.

Yemen, the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden and the Arab world's poorest country, is also grappling with an on-again, off-again rebellion by Zaidi Shiites in the north.

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