Middle East

Yemen arrests local Al-Qaeda chief, five militants

Suspected Yemeni Al-Qaeda militants attend the first court hearing at the state security court in the capital Sanaa on January 19, 2013. AFP PHOTO/ MOHAMMED HUWAIS

ADEN, Yemen: Yemeni forces have arrested six Al-Qaeda militants, including a local chief, in the southeastern province of Hadramawt, where the army is pressing an offensive against the group, the defense ministry said on Monday.

Security forces captured Omar Ashour, the Al-Qaeda chief in Ghayl Bawazir, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) east of the port city of Mukalla, along with his son Abdullah in the nearby village of Shaheer, the ministry said on its news website

The pair were arrested on Saturday, a security official told AFP, as security forces pushed ahead with an operation against Al-Qaeda militants who recently seized control of some villages in the area.

But militants opened fire on troops as they stormed a farm belonging to Ashour in Ghayl Bawazir following his arrest, killing two soldiers and wounding seven others.

Security forces also arrested four more Al-Qaeda suspects in the nearby town of Boqshan, the ministry said, without specifying when they did so.

Al-Qaeda fighters have been regrouping in areas of Hadramawt since June 2012 after being forced out of the southern province of Abyan, where they ruled major towns for about a year.

Residents of Ghayl Bawazir told AFP last month the jihadists had taken advantage of an absence of security forces in the area to deploy in strength and had distributed leaflets declaring their rule.





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