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Thursday, 26 October, 2000, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Yemen bomb suspects held
Damaged USS Cole
USS Cole: US foreign policy is unpopular in Yemen
The Yemeni authorities say they have arrested several Islamic militants in connection with the bombing of a US warship in which 17 sailors died.

The Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, said the 12 October attack on the guided-missile destroyer, USS Cole, in the southern port of Aden was carried out by an Egyptian.

He said those arrested included "top leaders" of the Islamic Jihad organisation from Yemen, Egypt, Algeria and other Arab states. He did not say how many people were in custody.

Ali Abdullah Saleh
President Saleh: Investigation is going "very well"

The militants had come to Yemen after fighting against Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s, he told London-based MBC television.

Two suicide bombers are believed to have manoeuvred a small boat packed with explosives next to the USS Cole and detonated it. The blast also injured 39 sailors.

Yemeni police were quoted as saying three Yemenis and a Somali woman were being held on suspicion of involvement in the attack.

Bin Laden suspected

President Saleh said it was too early in the investigation to implicate the millionaire Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, whom US officials suspect of involvement.

Bin Laden is wanted in the United States, which accuses him of masterminding the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania which killed more than 220 people. He is living in Afghanistan, and the ruling Taleban militia have refused to hand him over.

The investigations "show that the person who carried out the operation - and perhaps another person with him - is an Egyptian national," Mr Saleh said.

"The inquiry is progressing very well and the results are promising," he added.

He previously disclosed that two people carried out the attack on the USS Cole.

Dozens of people have been questioned by police in Aden in connection with the bombing, many of them port workers.

US alert

Agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigations are involved in the search for those responsible.

Some US forces in the Gulf and Turkey have been put on the highest state of alert, following threats of another possible attack.

US troops in Qatar, Bahrain and Turkey are reported to be on "Delta" alert, the highest state of military alert.

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See also:

24 Oct 00 | Middle East
American troops on high alert
19 Oct 00 | Middle East
Yemen blast inquiry yields clues
18 Oct 00 | Middle East
Clinton pledges to hunt Yemen bombers
13 Oct 00 | Middle East
Explosion hits UK Yemen embassy
13 Oct 00 | Middle East
Terror alert after US warship blast
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