Yemeni tribal chief Tareq Al Fadhli, in the spotlight for his alleged ties to Al Qaeda, has been placed under house arrest in the port city of Aden, according to a local official and a tribal leader.
The announcement came late Saturday just hours after two of Mr Al Fadhli’s aides were killed in clashes with pro-army militiamen who have been surrounding his home in the southern province of Abyan since last week.
“Fadhli has been transferred with his family to Aden under the protection of the army,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Tribal leader and militia commander Hussein Al Waheshi said tribal mediators “secured a deal for the transfer of Mr Al Fadhli to Aden where he will live under house arrest.”
On November 5, hundreds of the militiamen, known as the Popular Resistance Committees who fought alongside the Yemeni army to oust Al Qaeda from southern towns last May, surrounded Mr Al Fadhli’s home.
They wanted the known warlord, who has fought in Afghanistan, to turn himself into the police.
Mr Al Waheshi had earlier said the local security committee agreed that Mr Al Fadhli should “surrender to the public prosecutor who issued an arrest warrant last month over threats to kill leaders of the (southern) Socialist Party.”
Al Qaeda militants took advantage of the weakness of Yemen’s central government during an uprising last year against now ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh to seize large swathes of territory in the south, including Zinjibar and other Abyan towns.
After a month-long offensive in May launched by Yemeni troops, most militants fled to more lawless desert regions of the east.