SANA'A // An al Qa'eda militant was sentenced to death yesterday in a state security court after being convicted of involvement in deadly attacks that killed and wounded Yemeni soldiers.
Saleh al Shawish, who was arrested in January, had been charged with involvement in attacks on security facilities, training would-be suicide bombers and making bombs. He refused to appeal against yesterday's verdict.
After hearing his sentence, al Shawish said that al Qa'eda would take revenge on Yemen's government. "God willing, your end will come at our hands and the start will be from Abyan," al Shawish shouted from the dock as the judge handed down the sentence.
Abyan is a southern province that has seen deadly clashes between the army and suspected al Qa'eda militants in recent months.
Al Shawish admitted in court on October 9 that he took part in seven attacks on military targets and oil facilities in Hadramawt and Marib provinces.
"The acts attributed to me are correct ... I prepared and carried out these operations voluntarily and without duress," he said.
Al Shawish was captured in January, allegedly while preparing to carry out a suicide bombing in the south-eastern port of Mukalla. He was wearing an explosive belt and carrying two bombs when he was stopped on his motorbike, the interior ministry said. Yesterday's sentence comes as al Qa'eda in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen's al Qa'eda offshoot, has ramped up its attacks against military personnel in Abyan.
The number of casualties from intermittent clashes since Thursday and from air strikes carried out against militant strongholds in Mudyah district on Sunday could not be confirmed, but local sources said that more than 10 soldiers had been killed and wounded over the past five days.
The sources also said that one shepherd was killed and two women and a child were wounded in the air strike by the military.
Col Mohammed al Khadir, the security director of Mudyah district, said that six al Qa'eda militants were killed in recent clashes.
"Security forces backed by army units were able to completely destroy some of the strongholds and hideouts of the terrorist elements in Mudyah ... Security forces are hunting down to arrest 20 terrorists who escaped to mountains and neighbouring valleys while some are entrenched in the houses of the citizens," Col al Khadir was quoted by the ruling party's al Mithaq weekly newspaper as saying yesterday.
* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse