Last updated: 19 July, 2011

Suspected Qaeda chief killed in Yemen

A leader of suspected Al-Qaeda militants in Abyan province in south Yemen has been killed by the army, a government official said on Tuesday.

The killing comes as tribesmen across Abyan began expelling the militants from the province.

Hassan Basonbol, who went under the alias Abu Issa, was killed in fighting with the army on Monday in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan, where security forces have battled suspected Al-Qaeda-linked militants since May, the official said.

Meanwhile, armed tribesmen were able to expel suspected Al-Qaeda fighters from the town of Shaqra, tribal leader Mohammed Sakin Jaadani said.

The tribesmen were able to regain control of the police station in Shaqra, a clinic and a local government building, all without a fight, he said.

In the town of Wadia, police chief Abdullah Nasser said that armed men from his tribe were able to “expel Al-Qaeda elements,” also without clashes.

However, suspected Al-Qaeda elements remained in the town of Loder, despite an order from tribal chiefs for them to leave the city, which was made during a meeting at the house of Sheikh Nasser al-Oudali, one of the tribal leaders.

According to residents, the militants ignored the call and remained in the town, despite checkpoints set up by young people at the initiative of the tribal leaders.

Militants from the “Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law)”, which is believed to be linked to Al-Qaeda, remain in Zinjibar, and the area of Jaar to its north.

In a statement obtained by AFP on Tuesday, the Partisans of Sharia warned the tribes against the “risks of a plot pushing them to face” its fighters.

The tribes in the province, many of which had close ties with Al-Qaeda in the past, began turning against the organisation after thousands of Zinjibar residents were forced out when the militants sought to seize the town.