World News

Six held in Yemen for planning al Qaeda attacks

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemeni authorities have arrested six suspected al Qaeda militants who were planning a dozen attacks on oil installations, foreign targets and tourists in the Arab country, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.

Violence in Yemen has affected Western and other foreign firms developing its oil and gas sector. Attacks on foreigners, including kidnappings by tribesmen, have hit tourism.

“Security bodies succeeded in detaining six terrorist elements who had been assigned to carry out the terrorist plans,” said a statement on the ministry website, adding that other suspects were still being hunted.

“Al Qaeda’s criminal plans (consisted of) 12 terror actions against oil installations, interests of friendly countries in Yemen and foreign tourists.”

It said a suicide bombing that killed four South Korean tourists this month, and a subsequent failed suicide bombing targeting Korean investigators, were linked to these plans.

The bombings followed calls by leaders of al Qaeda’s regional wing to attack non-Muslim foreigners in the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam.

The government of Yemen, which hosts tens of thousands of Somali refugees, has also faced an insurgency in the north, riots over unemployment and the potentially disastrous economic impact of dwindling water and oil reserves.

Analysts say Yemen’s multiple challenges put it in danger of becoming a “failed state” whose problems could spill into neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, which has been fighting its own campaign against al Qaeda.

Reporting by Mohamed Sudam; writing by Firouz Sedarat; editing by Mark Trevelyan