December 29, 2013 / 4:45 PM / 5 years ago

Yemen jails nine al Qaeda members for plot to kill president

Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi looks on during a meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (not pictured), in Washington, July 29, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

SANAA (Reuters) - A Yemeni court jailed nine al Qaeda members for between two and 10 years on Sunday for plotting to assassinate President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the country’s news agency Saba reported.

Yemen is battling one of the most active wings of al Qaeda, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has been foiled in several attempted attacks on Western targets, including airliners.

The prosecution said the group, which was also convicted of planning to kill military officers and kidnap foreigners, planted an explosive device this year on a road used by Hadi on his way to the presidential palace.

Their intention was to detonate the bomb remotely and kill Hadi, but the device was found and dismantled by security forces, prosecutors said.

It was one of several attempted attacks on Hadi, who was elected in February 2012 after his long-serving predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down as part of a U.S.-backed power transfer deal. Saleh’s departure ended months of popular protests against his three decades in office.

Stabilizing Yemen, which is also struggling with southern separatists and northern rebels, is an international priority because of fears of disorder in a state that flanks top oil producer Saudi Arabia and major shipping lanes.

Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Reem Shamseddine; Editing by William Maclean and David Goodman

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