Al-Qaeda seizes town near Yemen’s capital

Al-Qaeda seizes town near Yemen’s capital

Al-Qaeda seizes town near Yemen’s capital

Protesters march to Zinjibar to demand an end to conflict with al-Qaeda. REUTERS photo

Dozens of al-Qaeda militants have seized a small town about 170 kilometers southeast of Yemen’s capital Sanaa, a police source and witnesses said yesterday.

They said the militants entered the town of Radda in al-Baydah province Jan. 14 night with little resistance from a small contingent of police and seized an ancient citadel and mosque.

The capture of Radda expands militant control outside the southern province of Abyan, where they have taken over several towns since an uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh began early last year that culminated with a power transfer deal in November. Residents in Radda, which has a population of 60,000, said the group was led by Tareq al-Dahab, a suspected militant who had been handed over by Syria to Yemen recently while trying to infiltrate to Iraq. Dahab is a brother-in-law of U.S.-born Muslim cleric linked to al-Qaeda who was killed in an air strike last year. Yahia Abu Usba, deputy head of the Yemeni Socialist Party and a Saleh critic, charged that the security forces appeared to have done very little to stop the militants from entering Radda and warned that al-Qaeda was planning to strike at the oil-rich Maarib Province next, bringing it closer to Sanaa. Meanwhile, Yemeni tribesmen have kidnapped a Norwegian citizen in Sanaa in a bid to pressure the government into releasing a member of their clan from prison, a tribal source said yesterday. “A Norwegian was kidnapped last night from Sanaa and taken to the eastern province of Marib,” the source said, adding that the tribe wants “one of their tribesmen to be released from prison.”

Compiled from Reuters and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.

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