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TERROR WARS
10 killed in Yemen anti-Qaeda offensive
by Staff Writers
Aden (AFP) June 05, 2013


London attack suspect tells court 'I'm a soldier'
London (AFP) June 05, 2013 - One of the men accused of murdering a British soldier in London repeatedly interrupted his bail hearing on Wednesday, declaring "I'm a soldier" and accusing the judge of stifling the truth.

The video-link connecting Michael Adebolajo, 28, from prison to London's Old Bailey central criminal court was eventually switched off after the judge asked him several times to be quiet.

Adebolajo is accused along with another man, 22-year-old Michael Adebowale, of hacking to death soldier Lee Rigby in broad daylight near a barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, on May 22.

He is also accused of the attempted murder of two police officers and possession of a firearm.

In his second appearance in court since being charged on Saturday, Adebolajo was still wearing a plaster cast on his left arm after being shot by police at the scene of the murder.

He has been seen by psychiatrists five times -- three times in hospital and at least twice since he was discharged on Friday -- and has been declared fit for interview each time, the court heard.

Defence lawyer David Gottlieb said: "It's the prosecution's case that he is completely sane. He doesn't suffer from any mental disorder at all. Mr Hamza agrees with that".

Adebolajo asked at an earlier hearing to be referred to as Mujaahid Abu Hamza.

While his mental state was discussed, he interjected: "I'm not familiar with this legal jargon. I'm a soldier, not a lawyer."

Wearing a burgundy top with a pink jumper, Adebolajo complained that the hearing was not about him, "even though I played a major part in proceedings".

"Really and truly it's about the good, honest, decent, hardworking British members of society, whether they be Muslim or non-Muslim. They are the ones that have suffered the most," he said.

He also complained about the examination of his "privates" ahead of his court appearance, adding: "I cried like a baby, you know, into my sleeve."

When he was reprimanded by judge Nigel Sweeney for interrupting, he replied: "Stop trying to stifle the truth."

But he later praised the judge after Sweeney let him have his handcuffs removed in the video-link room at Belmarsh prison, on the understanding that two prison officers sit beside him.

"That man who is wearing the white wig and the red robe. May Allah bless that man because he has had the courage to do something that many wouldn't have had the courage to do," he said.

Adebolajo's case will return to the Old Bailey on June 28, when it will join up with that of his co-accused, Adebowale.

The Yemeni army launched an all-out offensive on Wednesday to recapture villages from Al-Qaeda groups in the southeastern province of Hadramawt, costing 10 lives, security and medical sources said.

Troops backed by tanks and helicopters launched a dawn operation in Ghayl Bawazir, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) east of the port city of Mukalla, a security official said.

Seven Al-Qaeda militants, two civilians and an army officer were killed in the offensive, the sources said.

An army spokesman in Hadramawt, quoted by the defence ministry's news website 26sep.net, said that Ghaleb al-Mansoub, a commander in the 27th Mechanised Brigade, was killed during the operation.

Another security official had said earlier Wednesday that two army officers were killed in the offensive near Ghayl Bawazir that would continue until the "liberation" of the town and surrounding areas.

But the army spokesman reported only one dead officer and five wounded. Medical sources told AFP later that the second officer, admitted to hospital in Mukalla, was "clinically dead."

Medics in Mukalla said two civilians were killed and five others wounded.

Seven Al-Qaeda militants were also killed and "many wounded", according to the statement on 26sep.net.

The army "destroyed weapon caches and seized explosives and motorbikes used" by the insurgents to carry out attacks, the unnamed spokesman said, quoted by 26sep.net.

In the afternoon, "army units and security forces continued to hunt down the terrorists and comb farms and other areas in search of those who had escaped," he added.

Witnesses said they saw military convoys heading in the direction of Ghayl Bawazir, which officials said had been seized by Al-Qaeda gunmen last month.

Army forces also targeted Al-Qaeda militants in the nearby town of Shihr and the village of Qara, a security official said.

A convoy of 40 armoured vehicles headed to Shihr while other troops laid siege to Qara, where large numbers of militants are believed to be based, he said.

Al-Qaeda fighters have been regrouping since June 2012 in areas of Hadramawt after being driven out of the southern province of Abyan where they ruled major towns for about a year.

Residents of Ghayl Bawazir told AFP last month the jihadists had taken advantage of an absence of security forces in the area to deploy in strength and had distributed leaflets declaring their rule.

In areas of the south they seized in 2011, with a collapse of central government control during 11 months of protests that eventually forced veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh from power, the militants enforced a strict version of Islamic law.

Punishments included public executions and amputations.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, which is based in Yemen, is considered by Washington as the most dangerous branch of the jihadist network.

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