Al-Qaida leaves Yemeni town

Jan. 25, 2012 at 12:35 PM

SANAA, Yemen, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Fighters with ties to al-Qaida evacuated a Yemeni town south of the capital in exchange for prisoners, the vice president's office said.

Fighters loyal to al-Qaida last week seized control of Rada, just south of Sanaa. The fighters left the town in exchange for the release of three prisoners, the vice president's office said.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has agreed to a transition deal in exchange for immunity from prosecution. He handed power over to Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and is headed to the United States for treatment for wounds suffered during a June assassination attempt.

"Vice President Hadi is seeking to help the country go forward during this critical time," an aide to the vice president was quoted by CNN as saying. "He is constantly trying to solve the problems that were piling up over the last year."

CNN added that a brother of the leader of the al-Qaida movement that took control over Rada was among those released. The raid was led by Tariq al-Dahab, a relative of al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki, killed last year in an attack by a CIA drone.

Saleh's critics accuse him of exploiting the security situation in the country to cling to power.

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