Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi has rejected efforts by clerics and tribal chiefs to broker a truce with Al-Qaeda, insisting that the militants must lay down their arms, an official said Tuesday.
“The president wants members of Qaeda to surrender their arms, announce their repentance and renounce their extremist ideas,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), considered the jihadist network’s most dangerous franchise, announced on several Islamist websites that the truce efforts had failed.
The mediators, who launched the initiative in January, had already revealed in a statement on February 5 that their efforts had run into trouble.
They said Hadi had refused to sign up to a truce proposal which had been accepted by AQAP chief Nasser al-Wahishi.
Attack kills 12 in Loder
The collapse of the mediation bid came as a suspected Qaeda suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into a building in the southern Yemeni city of Loder, killing 12 pro-government militiamen and wounding 17.
A Yemeni official said that the bombing targeted the Popular Committees, made up of civilians who back the government in its fight against Qaeda. The official said that it was typical of Qaeda’s tactics.
Bodies of the 12 dead were torn to pieces, and 17 were wounded. Ambulances rushed to the scene, and security forces cordoned off the area, fearing a second attack.
Qaeda militants were driven out of most cities in Abyan province, including Loder, in June last year in an offensive by troops backed by militia.
Yemeni forces continue to hunt Qaeda militants in the rugged south and east, aided by U.S. drone attacks.
The militants took advantage of a decline in central government control during a 2011 uprising that forced veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh from power to seize large swathes of territory across the south, including most of Abyan province, which they controlled for a year.