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Yemeni Troops Attack Islamic Militants In Southern Mountains

Yemeni troops attacked Islamic militants holed up in the southern mountains Wednesday, ending days of negotiations with the al-Qaida-linked group. The soldiers fired artillery and Katyusha rockets at the hideouts of the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army near the village of Hatat, some 280 miles south of the capital San’a. The Aden-Abyan militants fled to the mountains after they attacked a military medical convoy on Saturday, wounding seven soldiers. The group is known for kidnapping 16 Western tourists in 1998. Four of the tourists died in a botched rescue attempt by soldiers. Since Saturday’s attack, the government has deployed troops and helicopters in the Hatat area. The government also conducted negotiations with the group through local clan leaders. The group was refusing to surrender, a clansman involved in the talks told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Earlier, the militants were said to have offered to surrender in exchange for the handover of the “killers” of Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, the top lieutenant in Yemen of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Al-Harethi was killed last year by a missile from a U.S. Predator drone. It was unclear whether the group was demanding the handover of the Americans who fired the missile or the informants who tipped them off to al-Harethi’s whereabouts. Full Story

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