Police arrest suspects involved in tourists’ assassination [Archives:2008/1123/Local News]

January 24 2008

By: Adel Al-Khawlani
HADRAMOUT ) Jan. 22 – Police arrested four people found guilty of carrying out Friday's terrorist attack that killed two Belgian female tourists and their Yemeni driver and left three others injured in the Do'an area of Hadramout governorate, in eastern Yemen, security sources told media on Tuesday.

The same source confirmed that security authorities caught two of the terrorists who opened fire on the European tourists on Friday , but he refused to say where the perpetrators were captured, promising that more details on the story will be released later on.

Another Yemeni security source was quoted to the official Yemeni media Agency Saba as saying the police launched an arrest campaign over the past three days, cracking down on suspects, believed to have connections with terrorist organizations responsible for such violent acts, until it identified the real perpetrators. According to the source, four of the extremists are believed to have launched the attack.

However, the Defense Ministry website 26september.net reported that the security authorities also seized the Toyota truck, which the terrorists used to attack the tourist convoy.

“A group of people suspected of involvement in the Do'an terrorist attack was arrested, and the number of group members doesn't exceed 10,” said Hadramout Governor Taha Hajer, as quoted by the Yemen News Agency, Saba. Hajer clarified that the concerned security authorities are still investigating the suspects in the search for evidence to see whether or not they have connections with the incident, while confirming that a military campaign will continue to crack down on any other escaped suspects.

The incident, involved four vehicles that were transporting 15 Belgian tourists, four Yemeni drivers and two guides, all of whom were leaving Sayoun city for Wadi Do'an. The convoy was touring the historic city of Hajarain when unidentified gunmen aboard a Toyota pick-up truck in the Ghar Al-Sudan area fired live ammunition at the convoy. Two European women and their Yemeni driver were killed, and three others including a Belgian tourist, were injured, according to local sources, who told the story to 26septemeber.net. The injured Yemeni driver later died as a result of his wounds.

Additionally, the terrorists selected an area where cars are usually incapable of high speeds because of rough terrain. The terrorists parked their pickup at one of the many speed bumps in the area, opening the truck's hood to give oncoming cars the impression that their vehicle had broken down.

This set-up allowed the shooters to fire easily into the slow-moving vehicles hired by the tourists.

The gunmen selected the time of Friday Prayer to attack the European tourists, which coincided with the anniversary of Ashura Day, a solemn holiday marked by Shia Muslims throughout the world.

There were no other people in the area when the terrorist operation was carried out.

The Tourism Ministry announced on Saturday, one day following the terrorist attack, that the tourism situation is normal across the country.

The Tourism Ministry said in a press release that the Belgian tourists subjected to the terror attack were taken back to Belgium via Frankfurt by Lufthansa and that healthcare was also given to the injured, under the supervision of the Health Ministry.

Interior Minister Rashad Al-Alimi stressed the necessity of expanding the scope of coordination and cooperation between both the interior and tourism ministries, in order to activate and improve the tourism industry in Yemen. This news came during the annual conference for senior security officials on Jan. 19 to 21, at the Sana'a-based Police Officers Club.

Entitled “Updating Management, Improving Performance of Security Authorities, and Enhancing Relations with the Society,” the conference discussed many subjects related to the security situation in Yemen and its direct influence on the local tourism.

The event was attended by Vice President Abdurabbo Mansour Hadi, who declared that “targeting the European tourist convoy last Friday is a criminal act contravening the Islamic and national values.” Hadi said he is confident that the security authorities will be able to capture all the terrorists and bring them to justice.

“Terrorism is a global phenomenon. It has no homeland, it has no borders and it has no religion while terrorists never feel ashamed of what they do,” said Yemen's Vice President, add his proper name here.

“The situation necessitates that joint efforts must be expended by the government and society to exterminate a criminal phenomenon that turned to be a fierce foe to our religion and nation.”

Policemen must be more capable to discover the crime before it occurs, while the tools and means used by the interior ministry and its bureaus in the different governorates must be developed as criminals continue developing their means for committing crimes, according to Hadi.

The government offered its concern and all possible facilities to visitors, pointing out that the Yemeni people and all political and civil society organizations condemned this latest terror attack.

Yemeni officials said the attackers were believed to be from a group of Al Qaeda fighters hiding in the valley. But officials in Belgium did not confirm any Al Qaeda links to the attack. “There were about 15 people in the tourist group in Hadramout province