Friday, April 8, 2011

Yemen al-Qaida wing calls on army to rapidly withdraw from Abyan: statement

SANAA, April 8 (Xinhua) -- The Yemen-based Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) declared through the Abyan Radio Station that they have on Friday killed dozens of government troops and destroyed three tanks, hours after they gave a deadline for the army to immediately withdraw from their "Islamic Emirate."

A local official told Xinhua by phone that the fresh declaration was broadcast through Abyan Radio Station, in which the militants of the AQAP announced "we have killed a large number of soldiers, destroyed two tanks and damaged another one and we will gain victory."

The official confirmed that fierce clashes between AQAP fighters and government troops were underway in Al-Makhzan area at the edge of Jaar town of the southern province of Abyan.

Eyewitness told Xinhua that they were hearing heavy gunfight at the rims of Jaar town.

The AQAP announced through Abyan Radio Station last week the establishing of their "Islamic Emirate" in Abyan.

Hours earlier, the AQAP broadcast a call through Abyan Radio Station for the Yemeni government army to quickly withdraw from the southern province of Abyan or they will face al-Qaida's ready suicide squads to demolish them if they refused to leave.

The official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that the AQAP said in their statement that "we call for the Yemeni government army to immediately pull out its units from our land, Islamic Emirate, within one hour, otherwise our suicide squads are ready to kill them all."

Sources close to the AQAP told Xinhua on Thursday that the group has seized control over swaths of hundreds of kilometers from Lodar city of Yemen's southern Abyan province to southeast Shabwa province's city of Rodhom, near Balhaf gas port.

Two local tribal chieftains confirmed AQAP set up checkpoints and makeshift military camps from Maeen area in Lodar city of Abyan to Ain Ba-Mabad area in Shabwa's cities of Azzan and Rodhom.

They told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that AQAP also seized the coastal road from Al-Awas in Abyan to Al-Haibala in Shabwa, off the Arab Sea.

Abyan, some 480 km south of the capital Sanaa, is a key stronghold of resurgent al-Qaida wing which have carried out frequent attacks against the Yemeni security and military personnel since 2009.

Yemen has witnessed weeks-long anti-government protests demanding an immediate end to the 33-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The political crisis recently resulted in deterioration of security stability after the government pulled the police out from some towns of major provinces under the pretext of avoiding potential friction between police and protesters.

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