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Tuesday, 18 December, 2001, 12:46 GMT
Yemen attacks 'al-Qaeda hideout'
Yemen
Yemeni forces have attacked a village in the east of the country where they believe members of Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network may be hiding.

At least twelve people were reportedly killed when officers from the Yemeni police and armed forces clashed with tribesmen in the village of al-Husoun in Marib province, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of the capital Sanaa.

Tanks and helicopters were deployed in the attack, which involved heavy exchanges of gunfire.

Residents of the village are believed to have refused to hand over a number of suspected al-Qaeda members when asked by the authorities to do so.

The BBC's Middle East correspondent Frank Gardner says that, while the numbers involved in the raid are small, it is nonetheless highly significant that an Arab government is launching its own military offensive against the al-Qaeda network.

Reputation

Many al-Qaeda members are on the run from Afghanistan after opposition troops backed by US forces defeated the Taleban, which had been sheltering Bin Laden.

It is unclear whether US forces were involved in the attack on the village, but Yemen has been co-operating with American officials in hunting down Bin Laden's terror network.

Our correspondent says this may well mark the start of what some would see as phase two in the war on terrorism.

Washington has made clear it expects countries like Yemen - known to have played host to supporters of Bin Laden in the past - to work with them or else face the consequences.

In a display of support, the Yemeni president recently travelled to Washington for talks with the US administration.

Yemen is in fact the ancestral home of the al-Qaeda leader, and a significant proportion of the foreign fighters who fought on behalf of the Taleban in Afghanistan are known to have originated from the country.

See also:

12 Dec 01 | Monitoring
Three countries fear US wrath
11 Dec 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Tough questions over allies' next move
20 Oct 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Wind of change in Yemen
14 Dec 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Yemen
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