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Thousands of Yemenis cheer freed bomb plot suspect

Anger lingers over arrest.

November 1, 2010 2:12 by

Thousands of cheering Yemenis on Monday greeted the student detained briefly on suspicion of having sent two parcel bombs found on U.S-bound planes last week.

Yemeni police arrested computer science student Hanan al-Samawi on Friday after tracing her through a telephone number left with a freight company but released her the next day, saying she had been a victim of identity theft.

Samawi, accompanied by her father, appeared at a rally on Monday at the edge of Sanaa University campus, where students and teachers hugged her and threw roses.

“I thank everyone for supporting me,” Samawi told reporters.

A banner held up at the rally read: “We want the facts revealed in the case of Hanan al-Samawi” while the crowd chanted: “No to the arrest of students.”

A day earlier, dozens of Sanaa University students protested against her arrest, saying she was innocent.

Governments, airlines and aviation authorities around the world are reviewing security after the bombs were intercepted in Dubai and Britain on Friday. The bombs had the hallmarks of al Qaeda, officials said.

Security was tightened in Sanaa after the bombs were discovered and on Monday security officials were manning checkpoints in the city, searching vehicles and checking papers.

Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was behind an unsuccessful attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner on Dec. 25 last year.

(Reporting by Khaled Abdullah and Abdulrhman Alansi, writing by Raissa Kasolowsky; editing by Andrew Dobbie)

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