By Fatik al-Rodaini
SANA'A, April 25, 2012- Yemen Ansar al-Sharea, an Islamist group linked to al-Qaeda threatened to execute at least 73 soldiers captured by the militants during raids on military bases in Yemen's southern province of Abyan last month within a week if the group doesn’t meet their demands.
The militants asked Yemen new president Abdo Rabo Mansoor Hadi and his Prime Minister Mohamed Basindwe to free their militants from Yemeni jails or they would execute their soldiers.
In a video posted on the Internet showed several soldiers being held by Islamic militants in Yemen saying that they in danger of being executed by the group. The soldiers said that they have been sentenced to death, asking the Yemeni government for immediate action to be taken to save their lives.
The militants overwhelmed the military bases in the Doufas district killing and taking as hostage scores of soldiers as well as looting military equipment.
Earlier this month, at least 23 Yemeni soldiers were executed by Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen's southern province of Lahj.
Army soldiers from the 119th Brigade who were held captives by Ansar Al-Sharea militants linked to Al-Qaeda during fighting were executed in the desert between Lahj and Abyan provinces by the terrorist group members.
"Many dead bodies of the army soldiers were found scattered in different places in the suburbs of Lahj province following the fierce fighting,'' residents said.
Members of the Yemeni parliament called to engage al-Qaeda into a dialogue, trying to negotiate the terms of a truce.
The parliamentarians from the Legislative Assembly insisted on the Executive to agree to hold talks with leaders of Ansar al-Sharia.
A group of legislators from different tendencies appreciated the talks with the militia, which in Sana'a is considered a branch of Al-Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula (AQAP), a duty under certain conditions to put end to the bloodshed in the country.
Human Rights Watch urged on Wednesday Ansar al-Sharia militants to drop its threat to execute captured Yemeni soldiers, calling the Yemeni government to not agree to swap the militants for detained Islamist militants in Yemeni jails.
“Ansar al-Sharia should immediately drop its threat to execute captured Yemeni soldiers,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “No one’s life, whether a captured soldier or civilian, is a bargaining chip to be discarded at will,” she added.
The organization stated that the executing prisoners is a serious violation of the laws of war and a war crime. It is also a war crime to use detainees as hostages by threatening to kill or otherwise harm them to compel another party to do or abstain from any act.
In a separate development, Yemen's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that at least 8 al-Qaeda militants were killed on Wednesday in artillery shelling in Yemen's southern province of Abyan.
The ministry reported that the artillery shelling took place in Um Hadean district of Abyan province targeting Ansar al-Sharea hideouts within the district.
"A civilian along with five al-Qaeda militants were killed on Tuesday evening during an attack on the militants in al-Kaheraba district of Abyan," the ministry added.