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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 February 2006, 18:25 GMT
US searches for Yemen fugitives
Jamal al-Badawi
Jamal al-Badawi was imprisoned for the USS Cole bombing
US Navy ships are patrolling the Yemeni coast to try to recapture 23 convicts who broke out of jail on Friday, in case they try to flee by sea.

The fugitives, at least 13 of whom are linked to al-Qaeda, include a man said to have masterminded the 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole.

Another was linked to an attack in 2002 on the French tanker Limburg.

The US ships are part of the Dutch-led multinational Combined Task Force 150, which routinely patrols the area.

According to a US Navy statement, the vessels are "supporting the efforts of the government of Yemen to recapture suspected terrorists who escaped from a Yemeni prison".

"Ships from CTF 150 are monitoring international waters along the coast of Yemen in an attempt to either block possible maritime escape routes or capture the suspected terrorists if they make this attempt," the statement said.

The US did not say which or how many ships were involved in the search, but the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is in the region.

Breakout

The fugitives include Fawaz al-Rabihi, who was convicted for the attack on the Limburg and had been sentenced to death, and Jamal al-Badawi, who received 10 years for the attack on the USS Cole.

Al-Qaeda's deputy leader in Yemen, Abu Assem al-Ahdal, may also be with them.

The men broke out of a jail in the capital Sanaa on Friday, tunnelling 140m to a nearby mosque and escaping as people left after prayers.

Seventeen US sailors were killed when two suicide bombers blew themselves up on an inflatable raft moored next to USS Cole in the southern Yemeni port of Aden in October 2000.

In October 2002, the Limburg was attacked off Yemen's south-eastern coast. An explosion killed one Bulgarian crew member and wounded 12 others.


SEE ALSO:
USS Cole bombers sentenced to death
29 Sep 04 |  Middle East
USS Cole attack verdicts upheld
26 Feb 05 |  Middle East
Six charged over USS Cole attack
07 Jul 04 |  Middle East
USS Cole bomb suspects recaptured
19 Mar 04 |  Middle East
USS Cole suspects escape
11 Apr 03 |  Middle East
'Yemen aiding USS Cole inquiry'
22 Aug 01 |  Middle East
Policing the Gulf
12 Oct 00 |  Middle East
Country profile: Yemen
09 Apr 05 |  Country profiles


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