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UK personnel in terror hotspots

Teams of British military personnel are now stationed in terrorist hotspots Yemen and Pakistan, official figures show.

About 20 members of the Royal Navy are based in Yemen, and a similar number of Navy personnel and Army officers are serving in Pakistan.

Last year, there were no members of UK forces stationed in the two countries, according to statistics released by the Defence Analytical Services Agency (Dasa).

The figures do not include troops deployed on operations and temporary assignments, so the real numbers could be higher. Yemen and Pakistan have frequently been accused of harbouring extremists and exporting terrorism around the world.

Two of the July 7 2005 London bombers trained in Pakistan, and the suspect in the failed Detroit airliner bombing on Christmas Day 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is believed to have been radicalised by al Qaida in Yemen.

Prime Minister David Cameron sparked a diplomatic spat last month when he said that Pakistan should not be allowed to "look both ways" and "promote the export of terror", while Britain's ambassador to Yemen, Tim Torlot, escaped unharmed when a suicide bomber targeted his car as he travelled to work in the capital, Sana'a, in April.

No members of the UK's regular Armed Forces were stationed in Yemen, Pakistan, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in October 2009, according to Dasa figures. But British troops were based in the countries from January this year, including about 20 in Qatar and 10 in the UAE.

The Navy team in Yemen is made up of about 10 officers and 10 other ranks, while in Pakistan there are about 10 members of the Navy and 10 Army officers. The numbers are not precise because they are rounded to the nearest 10. The assistance British forces are giving to Pakistan is politically sensitive.

Former defence secretary John Hutton confirmed in a Parliamentary answer in April 2009 that there were 24 UK military personnel based in Pakistan carrying out roles including training, liaison and diplomatic duties.

He said Britain was working with the US and the Pakistani Frontier Corps to improve security on the border with Afghanistan but refused to give more details, citing "security reasons".


From Belfast Telegraph