From combined dispatches
JIBLA, Yemen Yemeni interrogators suspect the man accused of killing three American missionaries at a Southern Baptist hospital may have ties to al Qaeda, officials said yesterday as an FBI team joined the investigation.
Two of the slain Americans were buried yesterday in the southern Yemeni town of Jibla, where each had worked for more than two decades and where the attack took place. The body of the third victim was moved to the capital, San’a, yesterday and talks were under way with the victim’s family over burial arrangements.
The sole survivor of Monday’s shootings, pharmacist Donald W. Caswell, 49, of Levelland, Texas, left the hospital yesterday after recovering from wounds in the abdomen, a U.S. diplomat said.
The other Americans who worked at the hospital were taken to San’a with Mr. Caswell in U.S. Embassy vehicles, the diplomat said.
An FBI team arrived Monday in Jibla and worked overnight. The American diplomat said the U.S. investigators were “very close” to the interrogation.
Officials close to the investigation said Yemeni interrogators have strong suspicions the accused gunman has connections to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terror network. Yemen is bin Laden’s ancestral homeland and has been a fertile recruiting ground for him.
The U.S. Embassy said it was too early to tell if terrorism was behind the shootings, but Yemeni Prime Minister Abdul-Kader Bajammal included the slayings in a list of terrorist acts he presented to parliament later in the day.
Mr. Bajammal accused “extremist elements in several [Yemeni] parties of having links with al Qaeda.” He did not elaborate.
The gunman slipped past security at Jibla Baptist Hospital, 125 miles south of San’a, cradling his hidden gun like a baby. Police arrested Abed Abdel Razzak Kamel, 30, who told them he had attacked the Christian outpost to get closer to God.
Yemeni officials said Kamel belonged to the Islamic opposition Islah Party. The party said he had left to join Islamic Jihad unrelated to the Palestinian radical group because Islah was “too soft against the West and America.”
Yesterday, Dr. Martha Myers, 57, a physician from Montgomery, Ala., and William Koehn, 60, of Arlington, Texas, an administrator, were buried in a missionary cemetery on the hospital grounds in accordance with their wills, officials said.
Officials told Reuters that the body of the third victim, Kathleen Gariety, 53, a purchasing agent from Wauwatosa, Wis., was moved to San’a. She also had asked in her will to be buried in Yemen, Yemeni officials said.
The hospital complex, surrounded by police and machine-gun mounted police cars since the shooting, was closed to outsiders.
The 80-bed Jibla hospital, which sits on a hilltop amid trees, treats more than 40,000 patients annually, providing care free to the poor. Hospital officials said the staff included 64 foreigners, including 25 Americans.
Many residents in the poor town in Ebb province were distraught and incredulous over the attack.
“This is treachery of the highest form,” student Ghaleb al-Maqaleh said outside the clinic. “Doctor Martha was like a mother to all us and to all the residents of Ebb. Whoever committed this crime killed us all.”