Yemen says it will continue hunting down al-Qaida members and launching military strikes against them until the group's powerful branch in the country is eliminated.
Deputy Interior Minister Brig. Gen. Saleh al-Zawari made the pledge Wednesday at a meeting of senior military officials in Mareb, one of three provinces where al-Qaida militants are believed to have taken shelter.
The group's growing presence in the country on the edge of the Arabian Peninsula has drawn attention with the attempted attack on a U.S. airliner on Friday. U.S. investigators say the Nigerian suspect in the attack told them that he received training and instructions from al-Qaida operatives in Yemen.
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The roommate of the Nigerian suspected in the attempted attack on a U.S. airliner says the would-be-bomber led a devout life and shunned music and women while he stayed in Yemen.
Yemeni officials have confirmed that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab spent time in Yemen just before the attempted Christmas Day attack and that he studied Arabic at a local language institute.
His roommate, Ahmed Hassan, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the Nigerian would sometimes disappear from the suite they shared without any explanation.
One of the teachers at the institute, Ahmed Mohammed, says Abdulmutallab spent the last 10 days of the holy month of Ramadan sequestered in a mosque and attended barely four hours of the 20-hour course he enrolled in.
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