Al-Qaeda insurgents agree to quit Yemeni town

Al-Qaeda insurgents agree to quit Yemeni town

Insurgents linked to al-Qaeda began to withdraw Wednesday from the central Yemeni town of Reda'a after a successful mediation bid launched by tribal leaders, a local source said.

The radicals, led by Tariq al-Dahab, agreed to leave Reda'a after getting assurances from the tribal leaders that their demands - including the release of jailed comrades - would be met, the source told dpa on condition of anonymity, dpa reported.

The source added that at least 15 jailed extremists were freed in a gesture of goodwill.

Meanwhile, a Yemeni security source said the insurgents agreed to leave after the government army threatened to storm the town.

"The group's elements preferred to leave after they became certain about the army's serious threat," Yemenat news website quoted the source as saying.

Last week, more than 200 armed radicals seized army positions and a historic castle in Reda'a, making it the closest town to the capital Sana'a to be controlled by al-Qaeda-affiliated militants.

In the past 11 days, the radicals have sought a bigger foothold in the town, located 150 kilometres south-east of Sana'a.

Their chief, Tariq al-Dahab, is a relative of al-Qaeda's spiritual leader in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a US airstrike last year.

Government forces have beefed up their positions around Reda'a in preparation for a massive assault on the insurgents, who have unveiled a plan to set up an "Islamic emirate" in the town, according to local media reports.

Militants - believed to be affiliated to al-Qaeda - have taken advantage of a year of political turmoil in Yemen to expand their influence in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.

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