By AHMED AL-HAJ, Associated Press
December 13, 2011
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Six al-Qaida militants have been arrested while allegedly planning attacks on senior government officials as well as Arab and other foreign diplomatic missions, Yemen's official news agency said Tuesday.
SABA quoted an unnamed security official as saying that the leader of the group in the eastern Yemeni province of al-Jawf, Musaed Mohammed Ahmed al-Barbari, was among the six arrested.
It said police seized explosives meant for the attacks.
A U.S. airstrike in al-Jawf province on September 30 killed two U.S.-born al-Qaida activists — cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, an activist who edited al-Qaida's Internet magazine.
Al-Qaida-linked militants have taken advantage of months of internal political turmoil to solidify their positions in Yemen's south.
Also Tuesday, an Interior Ministry spokesman said that the new minister, Abdul-Qader Qahtan, has ordered the release of all protesters who were arrested in demonstrations that called for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.
The exact number of the detainees was not known, but opposition groups have put it in the hundreds.
A national unity government took office in Yemen on Saturday, a step toward restoring order in a nation torn by nine months of protests. After months of delays, last month Saleh signed a deal to hand over power by Dec. 23.
In the southern city of Taiz, a security official said two protesters were wounded by police fire when thousands of demonstrators tried to reach a hotel where ambassadors of the five permanent members of the Security Council and European ambassadors were holding talks on the situation in Taiz.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with security rules.
The protesters wanted the ambassadors to inspect the places they say were bombed by the military, visit hospitals to talk to wounded people and meet with families of the victims.
The ambassadors earlier met with the Taiz governor and military commanders and are planning talks with opposition groups.