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11 Qaeda suspects arrested in Yemeni capital: ministry

world Updated: Mar 04, 2010 14:59 IST

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Yemeni security forces arrested 11 Al-Qaeda suspects in a residential area of the capital Sanaa, killing one man during the operation, the defence ministry's 26sep.net news website reported on Thursday.

The man killed, who was the father of one of the suspects, opened fire on security forces, wounding one of them, before being shot dead, the website said.

One of the suspects also tried to resist but "all members of the cell were arrested," it added.

Yemen began an intensified campaign against Al-Qaeda in late December as international pressure mounted after a failed attempt to blow up a US airliner on December 25 was claimed by the militant network's Yemeni arm.

Security forces arrested three suspected members of Al-Qaeda on February 17 in Marib province, east of the capital, 26sep.net reported.

On January 16, Yemen announced the arrest of three suspected Qaeda militants.

The previous day, an air strike killed six Al-Qaeda leaders, including the group's top commander in Yemen, Qassem al-Rimi, officials said.

And two days before that, a Yemeni official said security forces killed Abdullah Mehdar, an Al-Qaeda leader in Shabwa province in the east.

US Central Command chief General David Petraeus has said that Yemen is the one part of the Middle East where Al-Qaeda remains a growing threat.

"Our assessment is that over the course of the last year or so, Al-Qaeda has been diminished in that area," Petraeus, said referring to his zone of command stretching from east Africa through the Middle East to Pakistan and Kazakhstan.

"Saudi Arabia and the other peninsula countries have continued to make gains with the obvious exception of Yemen," Petraeus, the head of US Central Command, told NBC television's "Meet the Press" programme.

The United States has reportedly supplied Yemen with intelligence and other support in its operations against Al-Qaeda.
In January, a group of Yemeni clerics called for a jihad, or a holy war, if the US undertook direct military intervention.

"If any party insists on aggression, or invades the country, then according to Islam, jihad becomes obligatory," the clerics said.

US President Barack Obama has said he has "no intention" of sending in troops.