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Middle East

Yemen hands over 29 'Qaeda' militants: Saudi

Army soldiers check a car at a checkpoint in Sanaa February 12, 2014. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

RIYADH: Yemen has handed over 29 Saudis wanted for suspected links to Al-Qaeda, the interior ministry announced on Thursday.

"As part of joint efforts between security services in the two countries, the kingdom has received 29 Saudis... (who) had joined Al-Qaeda in Yemen," interior ministry spokesman General Mansur al-Turki told AFP.

Eleven of them had already been jailed and later released from prison in Saudi Arabia, Yemen's oil-rich neighbour, he said.

Nine others were on trial in the kingdom when they fled, said Turki.

The defence ministry in Sanaa announced the handover this week without giving details.

Saudi authorities are hunting for dozens of the ultra-conservative kingdom's citizens who have joined Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), based in Yemen.

Former prisoners at the US Guantanamo prison who had been returned to Saudi Arabia for rehabilitation in December 2006 later escaped to Yemen, two years ago after completing a reform programme.

Saudi and Yemeni Al-Qaeda branches merged in January 2009 to form AQAP, posing a serious threat to Western interests across the region.

After a wave of deadly Al-Qaeda attacks in the kingdom between 2003 and 2006, Saudi authorities launched a crackdown on the local branch of the group founded by the late Osama bin Laden, himself Saudi-born.

 

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