SAN'A, Yemen – Two suspected members of Al Qaeda were killed in a gunbattle and three others were arrested after security forces raided several homes Friday looking for members of the terrorist network, a security official said.
Two security forces were wounded in the fight in the northern suburbs of the capital, San'a, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Yemeni security forces believed the neighborhood was home to a number of people suspected of belonging to Al Qaeda. Security forces were searching the area late Friday and there were several more exchanges of fire, the official said.
A cache of weapons was discovered and confiscated during the raid, the official said without elaborating.
U.S. Ambassador Edmund J. Hull and the U.S. military commander for the region, Gen. Tommy Franks, are negotiating with Yemeni officials on the details of a cooperative effort to capture or kill terrorist suspects, Pentagon officials in Washington said earlier this week on condition of anonymity.
U.S. commando units and naval assault forces have assembled near Yemen in preparation for a stepped-up hunt for Al Qaeda operatives in the region, the officials said.
Yemeni officials have said the country does not provide shelter for terrorists, but U.S. officials believe Yemen to be a longtime base for suspected members of Al Qaeda as well as a sanctuary for others who fled the war in Afghanistan.
Two years ago, 17 American sailors were killed when the USS Cole was bombed as it refueled in 2000 in Yemeni port of Aden.
The blast was blamed on Al Qaeda, which is also held responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
The Pentagon officials said 800 U.S. troops, including special forces, have been moved to Djibouti, the tiny African nation facing Yemen. The Marine amphibious assault ship USS Belleau Wood was also sent to waters between Yemen and Africa.
Officials said the deployments are aimed at positioning people and equipment to be ready for any contingency around the Horn of Africa region.
The United States has urged Yemen to do more about suspected Al Qaeda fugitives in the country, including arresting Qaed Salim Sunian al-Harethi and Mohammed Hamdi al-Ahdal, who are wanted by the United States for the attack on the Cole.
Yemen says armed tribesmen may be hiding the suspects and hunting them down would be dangerous.