South Yemen tribal head seeks talks with militants

July 2, 2011 16:55


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ADEN/SANAA - A powerful tribal leader in southern Yemen on Saturday called for talks between the army and suspected Islamist militants who have seized control of a provincial capital as a political crisis in Yemen drags on.

With mass protests demanding an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule still paralyzing the Arabian Peninsula state, its southern province of Abyan has been scene to violence after militants suspected of ties to al Qaeda took control of its capital Zinjibar last month. Militants have clashed daily with the army.

Sheikh Tareq al-Fadli, a tribal head in Abyan and prominent leader of Yemen's southern separatist movement, called for a meeting next Monday between residents, army leaders and members of the militant group for what he termed an "investigation of current events".

Opponents of Saleh, who is recovering in Riyadh from injuries sustained in a June assassination attempt, accuse the government of intentionally giving more room to al Qaeda and Islamist militants to spark fears over Yemen's future without the veteran president at the helm.

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