San`a: A former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden warned of an escalation in fighting between al-Qaida and Yemeni authorities and predicted the government would need outside intervention to stay in power.
Nasser Ahmed al-Bahri told the Associated Press late Wednesday that recent attacks by al-Qaida in southern Yemen were an indication of its increasing strength.
US officials have said that the CIA now sees al-Qaida`s branch in Yemen as a greater threat to the United States than its parent organisation hiding out in Pakistan.
"I expect that the confrontations will escalate and will reach an open war between the government and al-Qaida fighters," he said, adding that US forces may have to
intervene to keep the terror network from triumphing.
The US is already spending tens of millions of dollars to help the Yemeni government fight al-Qaida and on Wednesday US officials said the CIA`s deadly Predator drones may be added to the fight.
Jihadists in Saudi Arabia and Yemen united early in 2009 to form al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and the group has already distinguished itself with a number of high profile
attacks, including a foiled attempt to blow up an airliner in Detroit on Christmas Day.
The group also regularly attacks Yemeni security forces, even in their fortified bases, and is believed to be holed up in the country`s lawless hinterlands, especially in
the disaffected south.
Suspected al-Qaida gunmen on motorcycles attacked a military patrol in southern Abyan province Wednesday, killing four soldiers and wounding one. The attack brought to 53 the number of soldiers killed by al-Qaida since May.
Also Wednesday, the government announced it had killed 12 militants and retaken control of another southern town after several days of fighting there.