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Yemen: Foreign Terrorists Will Not be Tolerated

VOA News 02 January 2010

Yemen's government vowed it will not tolerate foreign terrorists on its soil, one day after a Somali insurgent group said it was sending fighters.

Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi told the official Saba news agency Saturday that Yemen is ready to oppose anyone threatening its security and stability.

His comments follow a promise Friday by Somalia's al-Shabab to send fighters to aid al-Qaida militants currently battling Yemeni government forces.

A senior al-Shabab official, Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansour, also called on Muslims in other countries to join the fight.

His news conference featured hundreds of newly-trained al-Shabab fighters chanting "Allahu Akbar," or "God is great."

Yemen's foreign minister says instead of exporting terrorism, the al-Shabab militants should contribute to stability in their own war-torn country.

The Yemeni government has conducted a series of raids and airstrikes against the local al-Qaida group, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Somalia and Yemen are separated by the Gulf of Aden. Thousands of East African migrants cross the water each year, trying to reach Yemen and start a better life.

Al-Shabab is the most prominent of the militant groups trying to overthrow the Somali government and set up an Islamic state.

The group controls much of southern and central Somalia, including large portions of the capital, Mogadishu.

The United States considers al-Shabab a terrorist group, and says it has links to al-Qaida.

In another development, Shi'ite rebels in northern Yemen have welcomed an appeal for peace by Yemen's president.

On Saturday, rebel leaders said they would be willing to enter talks if the government ends its offensive against them.

In a statement Friday, President Ali Abdullah Saleh called on the Houthi rebels to lay down their weapons and renew dialogue in the interest of peace.

Yemen has intensified an offensive against the rebels in recent months, though the two sides have been battling sporadically since 2004. Much of the recent fighting has taken place along the border with Saudi Arabia, drawing Saudi forces into battle against the rebels.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.



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