Yemen welcomes UK-US aid to combat Al-Qaeda

SANAA, Jan 3, 2010 (AFP) - Yemen on Sunday welcomed a British and US decision to fund its counter-extremism police as the two powers step up the fight against Al-Qaeda in the impoverished country.

"Any assistance provided to Yemen's counter-terrorism force will be most welcome," a government official who requested anonymity told AFP.

"We have said in the past that the counter-terrorism force is still limited in numbers and equipment, while it is based only in the capital's region, and conducts only few rapid operations in the provinces," he said.

"We need to increase the capabilities of this force and widen its deployment, in addition to providing it with modern arms and air transport," he added.

The office of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown revealed early on Sunday that the British leader and US president Barack Obama had agreed to fund special counter-extremism police in Yemen.

The two leaders also believed more peacekeepers were needed to curtail militancy in Somalia, across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen, it said.

The Yemeni official said that Sanaa would also need help to modernise its coastguard "in light of the danger coming from Somalia."

Obama on Saturday accused a Yemen-based affiliate of Osama bin Laden's group of being behind the thwarted attack on a US airliner on Christmas day. US General David Petraeus meanwhile held talks in Sanaa with Yemen's President.

Obama promised to hold the affiliate, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), to account, and said new evidence was being uncovered about the suspected airline bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Adulmutallab is accused of trying to destroy a Northwest jet carrying 290 people as it approached Detroit by setting off explosives stitched into his underwear. The bid failed when he was stopped by passengers.

Source: AFP

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