Yemen Puts 21 'Qaida' Members on Trial

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A Yemeni tribunal specializing in terrorism began Saturday the trial of 21 suspected members of al-Qaida, including three Jordanians and an Egyptian, accused of attacks against security forces.

The defendants, who appeared in four separate groups, one comprised of the Jordanians and Egyptian, have been charged with "belonging to a criminal gang linked to al-Qaida to carry out attacks against the state police and the army," the indictment read at the hearing said.

The accused pleaded not guilty and claimed their confessions were obtained "under duress and torture," an AFP correspondent reported.

The next hearing was set for January 26.

On Monday, nine Yemenis accused of complicity in a suicide bombing that killed 86 soldiers in May 2012 and which was claimed by al-Qaida had appeared in a similar court.

Al-Qaida has been blamed for for most of the violence unleashed in the past two years in Yemen.

The extremist network has benefited from the weakening of the central government in Yemen, rocked by an uprising that led to the departure of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in February 2012.

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