ADEN: A suspected Al-Qaeda commander in the southern Yemen province of Abyan has surrendered to the authorities after negotiations conducted by tribal leaders, a security official said on Thursday.
"Jamal Ahmed Mairan, leader of Al-Qaeda in Loder and Modia (towns) handed himself in on Wednesday after mediation by tribal authorities," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
According to him, Mairan, whose home town is Modia, is wanted in connection with an attack on intelligence officers in Abyan and a bank hold-up in the spring in Aden, the main southern city.
On Monday, 15 suspected Al-Qaeda militants surrendered to the governor of Abyan province in the presence of tribal leaders and their relatives.
An official said some of the men had played "an important role" in clashes between Al-Qaeda and the army in Loder and Modia in the past few months.
Abyan and adjacent Shabwa province have become major fields of operation for Al-Qaeda as the central government in Sanaa struggles to impose its control on the region’s heavily armed tribes.
Aden and Abyan are set to host part of the 20th Gulf Football Championship involving Yemen, Iraq and six Gulf monarchies from November 22 to December 5.
The United States has become increasingly concerned about the threat posed by Islamist militancy in the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, and has warned of the potential for Yemen to become a regrouping ground for Al-Qaeda.
Yemen has intensified a military campaign against the network’s local franchise, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, since it claimed responsibility for a failed bid on Christmas Day last year to blow up a US-bound airliner by a Nigerian allegedly trained in Yemen.
Further indication of the dangerous situation prevailing in the south came on Thursday when the vehicle of an intelligence services officer was blown up in Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province.
Police said a bomb was placed in the engine of the vehicle while it was parked outside the officer’s house. The blast caused no casualties.