By Jim Kouri
The Yemen-based al-Qaeda group — al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — is denying a government announcement that it has accepted a proposal to meet and negotiate with the government over its withdrawal from Zinjibar, the capital city of southern Abyan province, a Middle East intelligence source told the Law Enforcement Examiner.
In statements released late Saturday night and Sunday morning, the Islamic terrorist group stated that it had totally rejected the Yemeni government’s invitation to negotiate, according to the Law Enforcement Examiner source in Israel.
“We completely deny reports which claimed that we accepted to engage in negotiations with representatives of the Yemeni government or tribal mediators for the withdrawal of our fighters from Zinjibar in return for the implementation of Islamic Sharia ( Islamic law), and the retreat of the government troops to their barracks,” the statement said.
The statement explained that on Saturday a Yemeni government team wished to discuss the possibility of negotiations over the fate of Zinjibar with the leaders of the Partisans of Sharia, another name used by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the region.
“The demand was immediately rejected, and they were only allowed to exit the area through a road in Shaqra, another al-Qaeda-held city located east of Zinjibar,” the statement added.
Security officials involved in counterterrorism confirmed al-Qaeda’s statement.
Early Saturday, dozens of al-Qaeda militants attacked a government forces barracks located east of Zinjibar. Yemen officials said at least three soldiers were killed and two others were seriously wounded, according to security officials.
Since last January, when protests erupted against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, al-Qaeda-linked radical Islamists have been increasing the number of their attacks and battles against government troops and reinforcing their presence in the country’s southern and eastern remote regions.