3 Executed by Militants for Helping U.S. in Yemen

Yemen division 2011-7-7

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By REUTERS  Published: February 12, 2012

ADEN, Yemen (Reuters) — Islamist militants in southern Yemen said they executed three men on Sunday for giving the United States information used to carry out drone strikes in the area.

Residents of the towns of Jaar and Azzan said two Saudis and one Yemeni were beheaded at dawn by the militant group Ansar al-Sharia.

A spokesman for the group later said none of those executed were Saudi citizens, but all three had been working for the intelligence services of the kingdom, a close ally of the United States.

A number of important figures in Al Qaeda’s wing in Yemen are Saudi militants wanted by the authorities in Riyadh.

The United States has been launching drone strikes against militants in the south. Last month, at least 12 people were killed in one such attack.

Federal prosecutors in the United States said Friday that Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate who was killed in a drone strike last year, had personally directed and approved the 2009 attempt to blow up an airliner over Detroit.

Weakened by months of protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s government has lost control of whole chunks of the country, giving Islamist militants room to tighten their grip in the south.

In Aden late on Saturday, witnesses said, separatists set fire to a tent camp housing about 100 antigovernment protesters, in opposition to an election on Feb. 21 to replace Mr. Saleh. About 10 people were injured.

Last year, southern separatists joined protesters calling for Mr. Saleh to leave, but the two sides have since grown apart.

The separatists want to revive a southern socialist state that was united with the north in 1990. They fear that the election will not serve their goal.

Anti-Saleh demonstrators broadly back the vote as a step toward ending his 33-year rule.

Northern Shiite rebels have said they too will boycott the vote, in which acting leader Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi is the sole candidate.

Mr. Saleh is in the United States receiving medical treatment for injuries inflicted during an assassination attempt, but he has said he will return home before the vote, shedding doubt on his commitment to leave office in line with a Persian Gulf-brokered plan to end a year of political upheaval.

A version of this article appeared in print on February 13, 2012, on page A9 of the New York edition with the headline: 3 Executed By Militants For Helping U.S. in Yemen.

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