Yemen says leading Qaeda fugitive killed

Police shot him dead in Hadramaut


Yemen said on Tuesday that a prominent fugitive member of the local branch of al-Qaeda was killed in a shootout when police stormed a house in the eastern province of Hadramaut.

Hamza al-Quayti, one of 23 al-Qaeda militants who broke out of jail in February 2006, was killed along with four other fighters in Monday's clash in the town of Tarim, the defense ministry website September 26 said.

Two policemen were killed and three others wounded, while two militants were wounded and captured, it added.

The ministry said the militants who were hiding in a house stormed by security forces had formed a cell which "planned to execute terror attacks and bombings in Yemen and abroad."

It said police found explosives and documents including Arab passports, two of them belonging to Saudis.

It claimed the cell was behind attacks including a suicide car bombing that killed eight Spanish tourists and two Yemeni guides at a historic site in Marib, east of Sanaa, in July 2007.

The group was also behind a foiled attack on oil installations in Marib in 2006, and a suicide car bombing last month in the Hadramaut town of Sayun, in which one policeman was killed and 17 people wounded, it added.

Three of the 23 al-Qaeda escapees remain at large, five have been killed and 15 others recaptured.

Yemen, the ancestral home of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and one of the most poverty-stricken countries on the planet, sided with the United States in its "war on terror".