Yemenis capture six al Qaeda operatives

Story highlights

  • One of those captured is accused of attacking the Sanaa airport
  • The alleged terrorists were targeting government officials, authorities say
  • Yemen says that escapees were not from al Qaeda
Six al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula operatives -- including one high-value target -- were captured by Yemeni security forces, the country's embassy in the United States said Tuesday.
Musaed Al-Barbari, an AQAP leader who authorities say attacked the Sanaa International Airport in 2009, was among those captured, the embassy said.
"The terrorism suspects have been carrying out surveillance, and planning missions aimed at targeting government and high ranking security officials," the embassy said. "Furthermore, the cell was planning on orchestrating attacks on foreign missions and critical state installations."
Authorities found weapons, explosives as well as training and recruiting material in the possession of Al-Barbari, the embassy said.
The embassy also sought to clarify an earlier report -- attributed to security forces -- that 15 AQAP prisoners had escaped from a south Yemen prison Monday.
The fugitives were not members of al Qaeda, but they were facing other criminal charges, the embassy said. Three of the escapees have been captured so far, it said.