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At least 6 arrested in Cole investigation, Yemeni official says

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Yemeni authorities have arrested at least six people -- and are expected to detain more suspects -- in connection with the USS Cole blast in October, a senior Yemeni official said.

Three other suspects, probably of Yemeni origin, are believed to be in Saudi Arabia, the source said.

Meanwhile, local media have reported the trial in Yemen of the suspects may be delayed due to Ramadan, the Islamic holy month that begins Monday.

Yemen's courts will be adjourned for the month of Ramadan, the Yemen Observer newspaper reported. However, another senior Yemeni official told CNN that prosecutors were expected to review the case during the month, and prepare for a trial expected to begin in January.

  GALLERY
Images of Cole being loaded onto transport ship

Photographs give closeup view of Cole damage
 
  INTERACTIVE
Timeline: The attack on the USS Cole

 
  MESSAGE BOARD
 

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, is a time when Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown and concentrate on their faith. During this time, Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink in the daytime, and smoking and sex are forbidden.

The USS Cole was attacked on October 12 while docked in the Port of Aden, Yemen. The blast killed 17 sailors and injured 39. Investigators believe two suicide bombers detonated a small boat filled with explosives alongside the Cole.

The Yemen Observer also reported that U.S. officials in Washington were about to give final approval to a memorandum of understanding signed with Yemen that would allow FBI agents to monitor Yemeni officials' interrogation of blast suspects and witnesses.

The document is expected to be signed by U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine and Yemeni Deputy Minister of Interior Rashid Jerhoom.

Yemeni Prime Minister Dr. Abdel-Karim Ali Iryani told CNN last week that "legal intricacies" had caused the weeks-long delay in finalizing the memorandum.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials are conducting DNA tests on human remains found at the explosion site, and Yemeni intelligence agencies are expected to take DNA samples from family members of the suspected bombers, a source close to the investigation told the Observer.

The officials are hoping the tests will prove the bombers' identities and make connections with other terrorist attacks.

From CNN Researcher Susan Bassal and CNN State Department Correspondent Andrea Koppel.



RELATED STORIES:
U.S. warships to resume use of Suez Canal for first time since attack on USS Cole
November 22, 2000
Remains of 1 Cole bomber found, U.S. officials say
November 17, 2000
Yemeni and U.S. officials differ on whether Cole investigation is almost over
November 16, 2000
Were Cole sentry guns loaded?
November 14, 2000
Clinton honors USS Cole victims on Veterans Day
November 11, 2000
Cole attack was terrorists' second try, U.S. officials say
November 9, 2000

RELATED SITES:
The Pentagon
U.S. Navy

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