Yemeni militants kill 11 in jailbreak

SAN’A, Yemen (AP) — Four suspected al Qaeda gunmen blasted their way
into the intelligence headquarters of Yemen’s second largest city
Saturday and freed several detainees in the group’s most spectacular
operation since a U.S.-backed government crackdown began late last year.
The
attack on the heavily protected security complex killed 11 and further
bolstered U.S. concerns that Yemen’s weak central government may not be
up to tackling an increasingly effective foe seemingly able to strike
anywhere inside or outside the country.

“We were hit where we
least expected it,” Yemeni Information Minister Hassan al-Lozy told the
Al-Arabiya news channel. “This is a serious escalation from these
terrorist elements.”
U.S. officials say insurgents, including
Americans, are training in militant camps in Yemen’s vast lawless
spaces and allying with powerful tribes opposed to the government of
President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Those concerns deepened last
December, when al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility
for the failed attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner.
In
the wake of the Christmas attack, with U.S. aid, training and
intelligence, Yemen’s military and air force have struck repeatedly at
al Qaeda sites and suspected hideouts, and arrested several suspects.
In
a statement, the Yemeni government said the attacks bore the hallmarks
of al Qaeda and resulted in the death of seven members of the security
forces, three women and a child in the southern port city of Aden,
about 200 miles south of the capital.
The fact that one of the
most important security institutions in the country’s second largest
city could be attacked reflects the state’s weakness, said analyst
Mansour Hael, hinting that the attackers must have had inside help.
“The
question to ask is how these attackers were able to infiltrate such a
fortified security area. This raises a number of suspicions,” he said.
The
headquarters of the powerful intelligence agency is located in an
upscale neighborhood of government offices overlooking the sea, flanked
by the state television building and a branch of the Transport Ministry.