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Tribal mediation to drive al-Qaida militants out of Yemeni towns: official

(Xinhua)

12:10, February 05, 2012

ADEN, Yemen, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- A government-backed team, comprised of high-ranking military officials, tribal leaders, social figures and parliament members, is expected to negotiate the pullout of militants form Yemen's southern regions seized by al-Qaida, a government official told Xinhua Saturday.

"Yemen's acting President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi ordered to form a committee comprised of several local tribal chiefs, dignitaries and government officials in an attempt to launch direct talks with al-Qaida leaders in Abyan in order to convince them to leave the seized towns voluntarily before the February presidential elections," a local government official, who is a member of the mediation team, told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

"The committee members arrived Saturday in Zinjibar and they are exerting hard efforts to start the communications with al- Qaida fighters," the official said.

"The mediation plan indicated and urged the immediate departure of the terrorists from the seized cities without any conditions, otherwise the government will use force to restore the stability and security there," he added.

However, sources close to al-Qaida told Xinhua anonymously that "our leading members will not agree to start any kind of talks with the government."

"Such mediations are completely refused and unacceptable by the al-Qaida militants," the sources said.

Earlier in the day, dozens of al-Qaida militants attacked a barrack of the Yemeni army forces, killing at least three soldiers and injuring two others in the Luader district, east of Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, a security official said.

Since late January 2011, when protests erupted against Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, militants of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have been stepping up attacks to bolster their presence in the country's remote regions.

The AQAP has taken control of several cities and towns across the restive southern provinces, as the Yemeni government forces engaged in fierce clashes with the terrorists during the past months, leaving hundreds of people killed.

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