Islamist militants quit captured Yemeni town

January 25, 2012 09:44
1 minute read.

SANAA - Militants are leaving a Yemeni town they seized last week in exchange for the formation of a council to govern it and the release of several jailed comrades, a tribesman involved in the negotiations said.

Islamist militants took over Radda one week ago, led by Tareq al-Dahab, a relative of US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, whom Washington accused of a main role in the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida and assassinated in a drone strike last year.

The capture of the town, about 170 km (105 miles) southeast of Sanaa, underscored concerns that protracted political upheaval in Yemen over the fate of outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh could give al Qaeda's regional wing a foothold near oil shipping routes through the Red Sea.

Dahab had demanded the release of several prisoners including his brother Nabil, as well as the formation of a council to run the town under Islamic law, but previous efforts to broker the militant group's withdrawal fell through.

"According to the deal which is due to be implemented on Wednesday, the leader of the group must withdraw his followers from the town and move to... a rural area located far from the town until the al-Qaida operatives are freed from the central security prison," said tribal leader Ahmed al-Kalz, who took part in the talks, late on Tuesday.

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