Yemen forces kill senior Al Qaeda leader
Sanaa, May 26, 2014
Yemen's security forces on Sunday killed a senior Al Qaeda leader wanted for attacks on local and foreign targets in Sanaa, the Yemeni government said, after a raid near the capital in which at least four other militants died.
The government said in a statement that two officers also died when anti-terrorism units raided an al Qaeda hideout and a car bomb-making facility in Bayt al-Adhari and Bani Hakam districts, in the Arhab region, and fought a gunbattle with its occupants. Two officers were also wounded.
Security forces also conducted two other separate raids in downtown Sanaa, the statement said, but gave no details.
The raids were part of an escalating campaign against militants responsible for a wave of attacks across the country.
"The forces exchanged fire with the wanted men who were holed up inside a house," a government official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters. "Five were killed and four were captured."
The government statement, received by email, said one of the dead militants was Saleh al-Tais, who it said was involved in the January killing of Ahmad Sharafeddin, a delegate at national reconciliation talks representing the Shi'ite Muslim Houthi group and a former dean of the law faculty at Sanaa University.
One of 25 people listed by the Interior Ministry's most wanted list, Tais was the operational commander of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Sanaa who had a 5 million riyal ($25,000) bounty for his capture, the statement said.
Tais, who had evaded capture more than once in the past, was involved in a number of major attacks, including an attack on the Yemeni Defence Ministry compound in Sanaa last December and the assault on the Central prison last February, it said.
"Tais was also linked to a number of terrorist operations that targeted national and foreign interests, particularly the cold-blooded assassination campaign targeting security personnel in the Yemeni capital," it said.
Explosives, car bombs and heavy weapons were found during the raid.
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi said last month that Yemen was at war with Al Qaeda, as the militants have stepped up attacks on government facilities after being driven out of strongholds in southern Shabwa and Abyan provinces.
Yemen has been in turmoil since 2011, when mass protests forced long-ruling president Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.
As well as the Al Qaeda threat, the country faces challenges from separatists in the south and an emboldened Shi'ite tribal militia trying to cement its control of the northern highlands. - Reuters