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115 Students Held, Questioned About Ties to Radicals in Yemen

February 03, 2002|From Associated Press

SANA, Yemen — Authorities have detained 115 foreign students for illegal residence and questioned them about links to radical Islamic groups, an Interior Ministry official said Saturday.

The students--from Britain, France, Egypt, Algeria, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sudan, Libya and Somalia--used to study in religious schools in various parts in Yemen, the official said on condition of anonymity.

They were arrested during the last four months and none had been charged so far, he said. He did not provide specific figures on the nationalities of the detained students.

The authorities were sharing the information obtained from the students with the United States, said a diplomat, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

Earlier Saturday, Indonesia described the arrest of 43 students from the country as unreasonable.

"We are deeply concerned about the treatment of our students who were unreasonably arrested," Foreign Ministry spokesman Wahid Supriyadi said. "The Yemeni authorities are watching hard-line Muslim learning institutions very closely and unfortunately some of our students were studying there."

Muslim nations--including Yemen and Indonesia--have been under pressure to crack down on religious extremists linked to various militant groups since the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States. U.S. officials say terrorist groups are active in at least 50 countries.

Indonesia has formally complained to the Yemeni government over the long delay in announcing the arrests of the students and their "improper treatment," Supriyadi said.

Washington has been pushing Yemen for greater anti-terrorism cooperation since the October 2000 suicide bombing of the U.S. destroyer Cole.

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