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Top al-Qaida Operative Arrested in Yemen

Officials in Yemen say they have captured a top leader of the al-Qaida network. Security forces aided by tanks and helicopters surrounded a terrorist hideout in the southern mountains of Yemen late Wednesday.

Officials said about a dozen Islamic militants were arrested during the raid, some 470 kilometers south of the capital, Sana'a.

Yemeni officials say one of them, Abdul Rauf Nassib, is a top al-Qaida operative, who survived a CIA drone aircraft strike that killed six al-Qaida members in Yemen in November of 2002. The suspect was wanted by U.S. and Yemeni officials, and has been linked to extremists who launched the suicide bombing of the USS Cole four years ago, killing 17 American sailors.

Last year, 10 militants who had been detained in connection with the warship attack escaped from a Yemeni prison. A government official from Yemen has accused Mr. Nassib of planning that escape.

Wednesday's arrests came amid tightened security in Yemen, following renewed threats of terror attacks.

Yemen, which is the ancestral homeland of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, became a U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.