Yemen hands 29 Qaeda militants to Saudi Arabia: website

ADEN, Yemen Tue Feb 11, 2014 6:30am EST

Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour Turki listens to a question during a news conference in Riyadh March 24, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour Turki listens to a question during a news conference in Riyadh March 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

ADEN, Yemen (Reuters) - Yemen has handed to Saudi Arabia 29 al Qaeda militants who were wanted by the Saudi authorities, the Yemeni defense ministry website said on Tuesday, citing informed sources.

The website quoted the sources as saying the militants had Saudi nationality and that they had been handed over to the Saudi security apparatus in the past few days.

Saudi interior ministry spokesman Major General Mansour Turki said he had no information on the matter, but was seeking to verify the report.

Yemen, which neighbors top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, is home to one of al Qaeda's most active branches, known as 'al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula', who have plotted unsuccessfully to attack Western targets, including international airliners.

Saudi Arabia is worried that instability in Yemen, where security forces also face challenges from a northern rebellion and southern secessionists, will spill over its borders.

Saudi Arabia, the United States' main Gulf ally, is a top target for al Qaeda.

Saudis who had previously fought for al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq waged a violent campaign in their own country from 2003 to 2006, killing hundreds in a failed attempt to bring down the ruling al-Saud dynasty.

(Additional reporting by Angus McDowall in Riyadh; Reporting by Mohamed Mukhashaf; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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