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Qaeda infiltration reports 'baseless': Yemen

world Updated: Jun 13, 2009 21:32 IST

AFP
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A Yemen security official on Saturday dismissed as "baseless" media reports claiming that some al-Qaeda fighters are escaping to Yemen amid US military pressure on their haven in Pakistan.

"These claims are mere fabrications that are baseless," the unnamed official said in remarks quoted by the defence ministry news website September Net.

"Yemen is not a suitable place for terrorists to use as a safe haven... Yemen effectively supports regional and international efforts exerted to combat terrorism."

The New York Times reported on yesterday that dozens of Al-Qaeda fighters and some of the the extremist group's leaders are shifting from their haven in Pakistan's tribal areas to Somalia and Yemen.

A senior US administration official said the shift was due to the "enormous heat" put on the leadership and mid-ranks of al-Qaeda, the newspaper reported.

CIA Director Leon Panetta said on Thursday that the intelligence agency is focusing on countries like Somalia and Yemen as possible safe havens for al-Qaeda. The group's leader, Osama bin Laden, is still hiding in Pakistan, Panetta told reporters.