Yemen airstrike on al-Qaida hide-out, clash kill 6

Yemen airstrike on al-Qaida hide-out, clash kill 6
# 25 May 2010 19:30 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. An overnight government airstrike on what was believed to be an al-Qaida hide-out in a remote Yemen province accidentally killed a provincial councilman and his two bodyguards, a security official said Tuesday, APA reports quoting website.
The incident sparked clashes between tribesmen protesting the deaths and police that claimed three more lives later Tuesday, a local Marib provincial official said.
The airstrike and the ensuing turmoil comes as Yemen is waging an aggressive campaign against al-Qaida, which has increased its footprint in this impoverished Arab nation in the southern corner of the Arabian Peninsula.
The security official said the strike late Monday night took place in the Wadi Obeida area in Marib province, about 107 miles (173 kilometers) south of the capital, San’a. The secretary-general of the Marib council, Sheikh Jabir bin al-Shabwani, and the two bodyguards were hit as they were driving home, he said.
As daylight came, tribesmen outraged over the deaths attacked government buildings in the area, blew up an oil pipeline and threatened to blow up the Marib oil facility, said the Marib official. He did not provide details on the three who died in the clashes.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of Osama bin Laden’s terror network, was formed more than a year ago when Yemen and Saudi militant groups merged. Militants are believed to have built up strongholds in remote parts of the country, allying with powerful tribes that resent the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Washington has earmarked some $150 million in military assistance to the Yemeni government to help combat the threat with training, equipment and intelligence help.
The latest air strike comes as Yemen reported the kidnapping of two American tourists — a man and a woman — and their driver, seized Monday while traveling to al-Hudaydah province west of San’a.
The three were abducted by members of the Sharda tribe who are demanding the release of a jailed tribesman. The U.S. Embassy in San’a said it was working with Yemeni authorities to resolve the situation, and a U.S. official in Washington said the kidnapping did not appear to be an act of terrorism.
On Tuesday, a Yemeni official said the government wanted to negotiate a deal with the kidnappers.
Abdullah al-Sa’fani, a local official in Hayma where the Americans were abducted, said tribesmen in the area were already negotiating with the kidnappers. He, however, said the kidnappers’ demands were "extreme."
Although kidnappings in Yemen are usually carried out by disgruntled tribesmen who hope to win concessions from the government and who in most cases release their captives unharmed, al-Qaida has in recent years started kidnapping foreigners as well, sometimes with lethal results.
The abductions often take place outside the heavily guarded capital, underlining the fragility of the security in Yemen’s rural areas.