Yemen launches mission to free hostages from al Qaeda stronghold
A screenshot taken from a video uploaded on YouTube on May 11, 2012, shows Saudi national Saeed al-Shehri, the co-founder and second-in-command of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. (AFP PHOTO / YOUTUBE)
Yemen launched a concerted attack on an al Qaeda stronghold on Monday, in a last ditch attempt to free three Western hostages, taken by the terrorist group last month, Reuters reported on Monday.
The foreigners - a Finnish couple and an Austrian man - all of whom were studying Arabic in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, were taken by tribesman and later sold to members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, when they were transferred to the al-Bayda province in the South.
According to eyewitnesses speaking to Reuters, the army tanks moved towards the al-Manaseh stronghold in al-Bayda, where the hostages are thought to have been kept, at dawn.
"A few hours later, army forces started shelling. We could hear explosions," 'Abdullah' told Reuters by phone.
The move by the Yemeni authorities come as the UN Security Council delegation arrives in the troubled state to try to push through reconcilliation talks between Northern and Southern Yemen.
Along with the problem of periodic kidnappings, mostly by tribesmen looking to make money from the ransom, Yemen's government also faces a serious lack of funds. The U.S. considers the Arabian state to be on the frontline of the fight against al Qaeda.
- Yemen continues offensive against Al Qaeda strongholds, nine killed Tuesday
- Yemen's army takes back control of al Qaeda town in the South
- Al Qaeda makes Western governements a laughing-stock
- UAE forces rescue British hostage from al-Qaeda in Yemen: state news
- Do risky rescue missions do more harm than good?