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 Thursday, 2 January, 2003, 12:56 GMT
Yemen moves against 'militants'
Slain missionaries, from left: Martha Myers, William Koehn and Kathleen Gariety
All the victims were dedicated to Yemen and its people
Dozens of suspected Islamic militants are being questioned in Yemen as the authorities there widen their inquiries into the murder of three US missionaries.

ATTACK VICTIMS
Martha Myers, 54, from Alabama - killed
William Koehn, 60, from Texas - killed
Kathleen Gariety, 53, from Wisconsin - killed
Donald Caswell, 49, from Texas - seriously injured
"More than 30 Yemeni Islamists" have been arrested since the attack on a Christian-run hospital and the recent assassination of a senior Yemeni politician, a police spokesman told the French news agency, AFP.

At a meeting of the Yemeni cabinet, President Ali Abdullah Saleh vowed "to trace those connected with theses horrible criminal acts", the official news agency Saba reported.

Meanwhile, the sole survivor of Monday's attack, Donald W. Caswell, has been telling of how he came face to face with his attacker.

Crackdown pledge

The Yemeni Government on Wednesday condemned the murder of the missionaries and the killing of Jarallah Omar, deputy leader of the Yemen Socialist Party.

Donald W. Caswell (right)  attends the memorial service in Sanaa
Mr Caswell (right) attended the memorial service in Sanaa

Mr Omar was fatally wounded on Saturday during a conference, where he was giving a speech rejecting "the culture of violence".

A Yemeni official told Saba news agency that Mr Omar's alleged assassin, Ali al-Jarallah, and an alleged attacker on the hospital in the southern town of Jibla, Ali Abdulrazzak al-Kamel, plotted the operation together.

Mr al-Kamel said he belonged to a local extremist group, Islamic Jihad, and attacked the medical staff because they were Christian missionaries, according to Yemeni police.

American officials have said it is too early to tell if the killings were linked to al-Qaeda, which the United States has blamed for previous attacks in Yemen.

Miraculous escape

Mr Caswell, a 49-year-old pharmacist at the hospital, was seriously injured in the stomach, but the doctors allowed him to attend a memorial service for his colleagues in the capital, Sanaa, on Wednesday.

Mr Caswell's mother Mary, told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal in Texas that her son had called the family to give details of his "miraculous escape".

The attacker shot her son three times, she said, and then appeared to pull the trigger twice more.

Mrs Caswell said her son heard two clicks and thought "this was it".

But the gun did not fire and the suspect was overpowered by the guards.

Al-Qaeda activity

Since the 11 September 2001 attacks, Yemen has been moving against suspected al-Qaeda members in an attempt to shed its image of being a haven for Islamic militants.

The US believes al-Qaeda members went into hiding in Yemen after the collapse of the Taleban in Afghanistan last year.

Al-Qaeda has been blamed for two attacks off Yemen's coast - the French tanker Limburg was attacked in October, two years after 17 US sailors died in the bombing of the USS Cole.


Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

31 Dec 02 | Middle East
30 Dec 02 | Middle East
28 Dec 02 | Middle East
07 Nov 02 | Middle East
06 Nov 02 | Middle East
05 Nov 02 | Middle East
30 Oct 02 | Middle East
03 Aug 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
30 Dec 02 | Middle East
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