ADEN, Yemen: Hundreds of residents of a southern Yemeni town in which al Qaeda has embedded itself called on Friday for the departure of the Islamic militants from their neighbourhood, an official said.
“Hundreds of residents of Jaar gathered in front of the town's mosque to show their opposition to armed groups with links to al Qaeda,” Mohsen Salem Said, a member of the municipal council, told AFP.
He said residents “demanded that these armed men leave Jaar, so it does not befallen the same fate as Zinjibar,” a neighbouring town in Abyan province.
Hundreds of men presumed to be connected to al Qaeda on May 29 took control of Zinjibar after battles with the Yemeni army in which 140 people died, including about 80 soldiers.
An imam in Jaar told AFP that the Qaeda suspects fired in to the air to disperse the crowd gathered in front of the mosque, injuring one of the faithful.
Southern Yemen is increasingly riven by instability.
Dozens of alleged al Qaeda gunmen attacked security and government buildings in the southern Yemeni town of Huta on Wednesday killing two policemen and wounding five others.
Elsewhere, raids by the Yemeni military targeted al Qaeda positions near Jaar on Friday, injuring two of the Islamist group and three civilians, residents said.
However, CIA chief Leon Panetta told a Senate hearing on Thursday the US was conducting anti-terrorist operations in Yemen, where air strikes usually carried out by unmanned drones -- have gathered pace in recent weeks.
The US said Tuesday it would cooperate with Yemen against al Qaeda and would hold anti-terrorism talks with Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi while President Ali Abdullah Saleh is hospitalised in Riyadh, where he is being treated for wounds sustained in an attack on his compound.
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