Yemen police arrest Islamic Jihad leader in crackdown on militants

Other News Materials 30 August 2008 22:41 (UTC +04:00)

Yemeni police have arrested a leading figure of the Islamic Jihad movement in the southern province of Abyan amid a clampdown on militant groups, security sources said on Saturday.

Khaled Abdulnabi was captured outside his house in the city of Ja'ar in Abyan late on Friday after police followed a suspicious car into Abdulnabi's house, the sources said.

A gun battle broke out between police forces and armed followers of Abdulnabi in streets of Ja'ar after the arrest and lasted for several hours, witnesses said.

They said police evacuated residents of houses close to the firefight area.

At least three policemen were injured in the shootout in Ja'ar, where Jihadist fighters have a strong presence. Police arrested several armed men involved in the clash, local officials in Abyan said.

Ja'ar is located nearly 600 kilometres south of the capital Sanaa, and is close to the Hatat mountains where armed Islamist groups are believed to frequently take shelter.

Police officials said last week that security forces were pursuing five militants connected to bombings that targeted local government and police buildings in Abyan.

Police in Abyan have arrested 40 militants in a clampdown on militant groups in the rugged mountainous area of Hatat in the past two weeks.

The crackdown followed an August 12 raid by police forces on a hide-out used by al-Qaeda in Tarim, a town in the Hadhramout region, in which the suspected mastermind of recent car bombing attacks, Hamza al-Quaiti, and four comrades were killed.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh later said the group had plotted terrorist attacks inside the country and in Saudi Arabia, dpa reported.