Sun, Jan 17, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Top al-Qaeda chiefs killed in Yemen

CONFLICTING REPORTSAn air raid on Friday killed military boss Zassem al-Rimi and five others. Rimi had escaped from a state security prison in Sanaa in 2006

AFP , SANAA

Yemen confirmed yesterday the deaths of six senior al-Qaeda figures in an air strike a day earlier, while continuing its crackdown on the group by arresting three suspected militants.

There had been conflicting reports on Friday about who was killed in the air raid and whether any of the eight people targeted had escaped.

In a statement on its Web site, the interior ministry said al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula military boss Qassem al-Rimi died when a missile struck his vehicle in the eastern part of Saada Province.

Also killed were Ayed al-­Shabwani, Ammar al-Waili, Saleh al-Tais, Egyptian Ibrahim Mohammed Saleh al-Banna and an ­unidentified sixth person.

Late on Friday, after initially having said Waili and Tais had been killed, a senior official said they had escaped.

The ministry did not comment on the fate of the remaining two people targeted.

Rimi was among 23 people who had made a daring escape from a state security prison in Sanaa in February 2006 that left the Yemeni government red-faced, and he was on a list of 152 wanted suspects.

Banna, also known as Abu ­Aymen al-Masri, was said to be an “ideologist” of the group.

Meanwhile, the defense ministry announced the arrest yesterday of three suspected al-Qaeda members in the northern area of Alb, near the border with Saudi Arabia.

It identified them as Ahmed al-Razehi, Yasser al-Zubai and Ahmed al-Heemi. It said they were disguised in military fatigues and carried arms and explosives.

An international conference on Yemen will be held in London on Jan. 27.

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