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Relief in Yemen as al Qaeda leaves Radda

Relief in Yemen. Al Qaeda leaves Radda, a town that came under their control a week ago. After calling for the establishment of a council to govern the town and the release of several jailed Qaeda forces quit. ( SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SECRETARY GENERAL OF RADDA LOCAL COUNCIL, ABDULLAH ABU-TALIB, SAYING: "There were no problems and he (Tareq al-Dahab) left the local council peacefully. Thank be to God, all the facilities were handed over to the Republican Guards. The local government headquarters are still in the hands of the local council and will be handed over to them soon, because it is the council's building" The capture of the town, about 105 miles southeast of Sanaa, underscored concerns that upheaval in Yemen could give al Qaeda a foothold near oil shipping routes through the Red Sea. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) NABIL EDRIS, A RADDA RESIDENT, SAYING: "The people have a very good feeling and they are optimistic about getting the town back on its feet, cleaning the streets, rehabilitating the central forces, and restoring the central prison that was ransacked." Since protests erupted early last year demanding an end to Saleh's 33-year rule, Islamist militants have exploited weakened central government control to seize chunks of territory, notably in the southern province of Abyan. Opponents of Saleh accuse him of exaggerating and even encouraging militancy to scare the United States and Saudi Arabia into backing him. Saleh left Sanaa Sunday for medical treatment in the United States. But he said in a parting speech that he would return to Yemen. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters.

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