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Yemen sticks to anti-terrorism stance amid domestic strife

(Xinhua)

14:45, December 31, 2011

SANAA, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- Yemen sticks to its iron fist policies against terrorism although the authorities face demands of protestors to prosecute outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Three al-Qaida leaders on the Arabian Peninsular were killed on Friday during battles in Zinjibar, capital of the southern Abyan province.

According to fliers posted by an Islamic militant group, among the killed were leaders of al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsular: Asem al-Wuhayshi, Ibrahim al-Siyri and Huthayfa al-Abi.

Also in the city, Yemeni security forces killed at least six al-Qaida militants in clashes, which erupted following an al-Qaida attack against an army barracks of the 119th Armored brigade positioned in the east of the city, a local army officer told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

On Friday, a Yemeni security officer was reportedly killed by Islamic extremists and buried in the city of Sabr, near the flash point cities of Aden and Taiz.

Militants related to al-Qaida controlled several regions in the south part of the country, including the Abyan province, where clashes between government forces and Islamic militants have become regular after months of domestic protests calling for Saleh's resignation.

Yemen is considered an important partner of the United States in fighting al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula, the most dangerous offshoot of the terror network.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Tuesday that Washington was still considering the request by Saleh to enter the country for the sole purpose of seeking medical treatment, adding the permission has not been granted yet.

On Friday, tens of thousands of opposition supporters staged rallies across the country, calling for prosecuting Saleh and his aides for "ordering crackdown on anti-government protests during the past 11 months."

They chanted slogans against the initiative by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which granted Saleh the immunity from prosecution. They also demanded the dismissal of corrupt officials loyal to the outgoing president.

Protestors said they will work together to achieve the goals of their demonstrations and they will not let Saleh escape from punishment.

Meanwhile, the Yemeni ruling party resumed loyal rallies to confront the opposition-led movement.

The decision came three weeks after the party halted its loyal rallies following the formation of the opposition-led coalition government to show "commitment to implementing the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative that stipulated the end of the rival rallies."

"The General People's Congress (GPC) decided to resume staging its weekly rallies," the ruling party said in a statement posted on its website.

"We call for the opposition coalition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) to comply with the terms of the GCC initiative and its implementation mechanism and to stop the provocative actions," it said.

Thousands of GPC supporters gathered in a square near Saleh's presidential compound in Sanaa, urging their opponents to adhere to the power transfer deal, according to witnesses.

They dubbed the day "If you go back, we go back," in reference that they will counter any opposition escalation.

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