Sanaa: Airstrikes killed 36 suspected
al Qaeda militants in southern Yemen on Wednesday, military and
medical officials said, as the government pressed on with a
campaign to drive out fighters who have overrun several towns.
Islamic militants some suspected of links to Yemen`s
al Qaeda branch seized the towns starting in late May, taking
advantage of the political turmoil unleashed by protests
against Yemen`s longtime ruler. Nearly three months of attacks
by warplanes and ground forces have failed to dislodge them.
The US fears that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will
gain a freer hand in Yemen to train and plot attacks against
the West as Yemen`s embattled government focuses on putting
down the protest movement that began calling for President Ali
Abdullah Saleh`s ouster in February. Saleh had been cooperating with the US in battling the al Qaeda offshoot.
A first round of airstrikes early today killed 30
militants near Zinjibar, one of the towns outside the
government`s control, the officials said. Another airstrike
later killed six militants in the nearby Arkoub area, where a
pair of suicide bombings had killed 11 anti-al Qaeda tribesmen
Eight Yemeni soldiers were also killed in ground fighting
near Zinjibar, said the officials, who spoke on condition of
anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the
Meanwhile, a funeral procession was held for a senior
lawmaker who died Monday in a Saudi hospital from wounds he
suffered in a June 3 attack on Yemen`s presidential palace
compound. The attack killed 11 of the president`s bodyguards
and seriously wounded President Saleh and four other senior
Saleh is still recovering in Saudi Arabia, where he was
treated for serious burns and other injuries.
About 3,000 mourners attended today`s funeral for
Abdul-Aziz Abdul-Ghani, speaker of the Shura Council,
parliament`s upper house.
Yemeni protesters, enraged by grinding poverty and
government corruption, took to the streets in February as
unrest swept the Arab world and demanded that Saleh step down
after 33 years of ruling over the impoverished and unstable
corner of the Arabian Peninsula.
A government crackdown has killed at least 174 people,
according to Human Rights Watch.