Page last updated at 11:06 GMT, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Yemen says militants died in raid

Map of Yemen

Two al-Qaeda militants killed in Yemen have been identified, government officials have said.

A third suspected senior militant has also reportedly been killed in two days of air raids by the Yemeni airforce.

The bombing raids were carried out Sunday and Monday on the southern province of Abyan.

Also on Tuesday, a series of small blasts reportedly went off in the southern city of Aden, which officials attributed to southern separatists.

Jamil Nasser Abdullah al-Ambari, 25, believed to be the leader of al-Qaeda in southern Abyan province, was one of two militants killed in the overnight raid, the security official told AFP.

The other militants were named as Smir Al-Sayari, and Ahmed Al-Zarba by local media.

The al-Qaeda operatives were connected to the failed bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Boxing Day, government officials told journalists.

It is not clear how many other people were killed in the airstrikes.

Separatist fight

The government of Yemen is facing three different militant groups, al-Qaeda, southern secessionists, and a rebel movement in the north - although it has it has called a truce with the later.

South and North Yemen were united in 1990 and fought a brief civil war in 1994, and grievances with separatists still remain.

The series of blasts in Aden were likely to be home-made firebombs or grenades belonging to southern separatists, government officials told the news agency Reuters.

There have been clashes between security services and separatists in a number of towns in the past month.

A truce with another rebel group, known as the Houthis, in northern Yemen has allowed the government in Sanaa to turn its attention to the secessionist movement and to the al-Qaeda cadre said to be hiding out in the same area.

But the truce between the government and the Houthis was reportedly under strain on Tuesday with government officials telling reporters the Houthis were not sticking to the agreements they made.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of the al-Qaeda core around Osama Bin Laden, have been using Yemen as a base since several militants broke out of a Saudi jail in 2008 and escaped over the border.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian accused of trying to blow up an airliner with explosives hidden in his underpants reportedly had contact with the al-Qaeda group when he was studying in Yemen in the months before his alleged bombing attempt.

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