Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Yemeni warplanes raids kill 3 al-Qaida militants and injure 7 in the country's south

By Ahmed Al-Haj, The Associated Press July 4, 2012
SANAA, Yemen - Yemeni airstrikes killed three al-Qaida fighters and wounded seven in the country's south, a Yemeni military official said Wednesday. The strikes by Yemen's air force were part of an offensive against the militants.
The official said the raids targeted militants in the border between Abyan and Shabwa provinces.
Al-Qaida militants took advantage of a year of internal turmoil in Yemen that eventually led to the resignation of longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh to overrun large areas of the south.
The new president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, has made a top priority of retaking al-Qaida's positions, and an offensive against them has had some success. Militants have taken refuge in mountainous areas after the Yemeni military drove them out of strongholds. Wednesday's air strikes targeted their new hideouts.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity according to regulations.
The U.S. has been helping Yemen in its offensive against al-Qaida, considering the Yemen branch the most dangerous of the terror group's offshoots. The U.S. targets militants with drone strikes and advises Yemen's ground forces, though it rarely acknowledges its role.
Also in Abyan province Wednesday, the accidental explosion of an artillery shell killed a civilian and wounded three soldiers and six civilians, the military said.
In Sanaa, the Interior Ministry said 14 more al-Qaida militants have been arrested over planned attacks against foreigners, security and the military. Plots were uncovered last week.
Also Wednesday, the Defence Ministry said that two army officers close to Saleh have been charged with inciting militants to blow the country's main oil pipeline. The blast on May 14 caused a severe power outage and fuel shortage. It has since been repaired.
The ministry said in a statement that Col. Jubran al-Zayedi and Maj. Washash al-Zayedi, Saleh supporters from same tribe, co-operated with criminals and soldiers in sabotaging the oil pipeline. They also blew up a natural gas pipeline nearby several times.
Yemen's oil minister estimated that the repeated attacks cost the impoverished country $2.5 billion.

Yemen says arrests Qaeda-linked cell

July 04, 2012
SANAA/ADEN (Reuters) - Yemen said on Wednesday it had arrested about 13 members of an al-Qaeda linked cell tasked with killing government officials and intelligence officers.
"This was one of the most dangerous al Qaeda cells in Sanaa," an Interior Ministry source said.
He said the group was behind the killing of an intelligence officer who was responsible for the neighborhood where President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi lived.
The group was also behind an assassination attempt on Wednesday when, the Interior Ministry said, an official's car exploded minutes after he got out of it.
The Defence Ministry said on Tuesday that three other militant cells had been broken up.
The United States is deeply worried by the threat of an al Qaeda offshoot that has exploited political instability in Yemen to gain a foothold in the impoverished state, which borders the world's top oil exporter Saudi Arabia.
Yemeni warplanes bombed Islamist militant hideouts in the south of the country on Wednesday.
A local security official said four air strikes killed eight militants in the al-Mahfadh area of Abyan, where they had taken refuge after being driven from their strongholds last month by Yemeni troops backed by the United States.
Despite losing control over several towns in Abyan, the militants, who call themselves Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), have proved they still pose a serious threat by assassinating a military commander in the port city of Aden last month.
Ansar al-Sharia swears allegiance to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which U.S. officials have called the most dangerous offshoot of the militant network.
A popular uprising that began in January 2011 and eventually toppled former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh severely weakened central government control over Yemen and gave Islamist militants an opportunity to seize territory for the first time.

Sanaa police chief 'escapes assassination'

A Yemeni police chief in the capital narrowly escaped an assassination attempt as explosives planted in his car blew up after he exited the vehicle
AFP , Wednesday 4 Jul 2012
A Yemeni police chief in the capital narrowly escaped an assassination attempt on Wednesday as explosives planted in his car blew up just minutes after he exited the vehicle, he told AFP.
Saleh al-Mustafa, police chief for Sanaa's western Mathbah neighbourhood, said he suspects Al-Qaeda militants were behind the attack.
"Thank God I wasn't there (in the car) or I would have been a victim just like our colleague," said Mustafa, referring to the assassination of intelligence officer Mohammed al-Qudami who was killed by a car bomb on Monday.
"Of course, this (type of attack) bears the hallmark of Al-Qaeda," he said, adding that the militants were "targeting security officials across the board."
According to Mustafa, Al-Qaeda militants "have a presence" in Sanaa's Mathbah neighbourhood and security forces have "been trailing them ... but they targeted us before we were able to capture them."
On Monday, Qudami was killed when a bomb strapped under the driver's seat of his car exploded.
He died in hospital from wounds sustained in the blast which according to a security official took place "just a few metres from President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi's house" in the capital.
No group has claimed responsibility for either bombing, but the defence ministry late Tuesday announced it had made an arrest for Qudami's assassination.
In a statement on their 26 September website, the ministry said the suspect was arrested after being found wearing "black glasses mounted with a video camera that filmed the assassination of the officer."
Last month, Yemeni troops recaptured a string of Al-Qaeda strongholds across the troubled south and east of the country where the militants had seized control last year.