February 3, 2009 / 6:27 PM / 11 years ago

Yemen urges tribesmen to turn in Qaeda militants

MARIB, Yemen, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Yemen’s president called on tribesmen on Tuesday to hand over al Qaeda militants, saying violence was jeopardising development.

Al Qaeda’s wing in Yemen signalled last month it was expanding its operations into neighbouring Saudi Arabia by appointing two Saudis released from the U.S. military camp in Guantanamo as commanders.

"Terrorism is a plague which hurts the people and development ... There will be no development as long as terrorism, sabotage and violence continue," President Ali Abdullah Saleh told tribal leaders in Marib, 170 km (106 miles) east of the capital Sanaa.

The tribal leaders were from the three remote provinces of Marib, Shabwa and Jouf which have been the scene of frequent attacks by militants and kidnappings by disgruntled tribesmen.

Saleh urged the leaders not to give refuge to militants and help the state’s fight against al-Qaeda by turning them in. A security official told Reuters authorities had detained 30 suspected militants in a renewed campaign.

Al Qaeda’s wing in Yemen, Osama bin Laden’s ancestral home, issued a video on the Internet last month, in which it changed its name to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in an apparent attempt to revive the group in Saudi Arabia.

Yemen joined the U.S.-led "war on terrorism" after the Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. cities in 2001, and has jailed scores of militants in connection with the bombings of Western targets and clashes with authorities.

Saudi Arabia issued on Monday a list of 83 wanted militants overseas, which included leaders of the Yemen-based al Qaeda group, which had called for attacks against Westerners in the region in their remarks on the video.

In Sunni Arab areas in Iraq, tribes played a decisive role in reducing violence by turning on al Qaeda militants in 2006-2007. (Reporting by Mohammed Sudam; writing by Firouz Sedarat; editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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