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Yemen's Saleh warns of al-Qaida growth

April 24, 2011 at 10:12 AM

SANAA, Yemen, April 24 (UPI) -- The outgoing president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, warned Sunday al-Qaida is taking advantage of political unrest in Yemen to strengthen, the BBC reported.

In an interview with the broadcaster a day after he agreed to step down in 30 days, the president of 32 years expressed some bitterness about the pressure applied by Western countries. He said the various protest camps that sprang up had created insurgent hotbeds.

"Al-Qaida is moving inside the camps and this is very dangerous," he said. "Why is the West not looking at this destructive work and its dangerous implications for the future?"

While he agreed to cede power to his vice president next month followed by elections a month later, Saleh was sarcastic in the interview about the West's insistence on him stepping down.

"You call on me from the United States and Europe to hand over power," he said. "Who shall I hand it over to? Those who are trying to make a coup?"

Security forces have reportedly killed at least 120 people during the protests, 45 of them in one day during a demonstration in the capital, Sanaa.

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