Air strikes kill 5 in Yemen

2012-05-06 09:11

Sanaa - Yemeni air strikes killed five militants in the south on Saturday as the country's president vowed to intensify his campaign against al-Qaeda militants.

Government troops have been waging an offensive against the terror network for several weeks after militants took advantage of Yemen's political turmoil to expand their presence.

Military officials said air strikes on Saturday in the southern city of Lawder, in Abyan province, killed five militants. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorised to release the information.

President Abed Rabo Mansour Hadi said on Saturday that the fight against the group is just beginning. He spoke during a graduation ceremony for military officers.

"The battle against al-Qaeda has not yet started in earnest and will not end until every village, district and area is cleansed of terrorists," he said.

Increased co-operation

Since taking office in February, Hadi has increased co-operation with Washington which views the branch in Yemen as the most active.

Hadi also faces an internal power struggle. He's trying to reform the security agencies, which are stacked with loyalists of his predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh stepped down in the face of widespread popular protests last year.

Critics accuse Saleh of obstructing Hadi's reforms and resisting efforts to purge the security agencies of his loyalists, including family members.

Separately, a Yemeni human rights group said the internal intelligence agency has been detaining two Belgian nationals for over a month without prosecution or referral to trial.

In a statement on Saturday, the Hood Organisation for Defending Human Rights said the two men were studying Arabic in Yemen and were detained at the airport as they tried to leave the country.

A Yemeni airport official confirmed the two Belgians were apprehended. The official said the security authorities are usually informed when foreigners studying Arabic in Yemen are leaving the country.

He was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Yemeni authorities fear suspected militants use Arabic studies in Yemen as cover to meet with al-Qaeda militants. This was the case with Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly used his studies at a San'aa language school as a pretence to enter the country and meet with al-Qaeda militants before his botched attempt to blow up an American passenger jet in 2009.

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Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  yemen  |  security

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