SAN'A, Yemen — At least three Yemenis and possibly up to six will be tried next month in the deadly attack on the USS Cole, Yemen's prime minister said Wednesday, adding there was "no question" the men were involved.

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Prime Minister Abdul-Karim al-Iryani said the suspects all were "culprits in preparing for the attack on the Cole" but said he had no details on their exact roles or the charges they would face.

Police have completed their investigation and prosecutors were reviewing the case in preparation for filing charges, al-Iryani said. Charges could be filed "at any time," he said, but any trial could not begin before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan ends late this month.

Al-Iryani said he expected the public trial of three to six suspects to open in a criminal court in Aden sometime in the second half of January.

Last month, Yemeni sources said six Yemenis had been detained as key accomplices in the attack — including one who was allegedly in charge of the operation in Yemen. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity.

Sources close to the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said charges would include carrying out the attack, threatening state security, forming an armed gang and possessing explosives. The suspects could be executed if convicted of threatening state security or carrying out the bombings; the other charges carry a minimum prison sentence of 10 years.

"They were culprits, no question about it," al-Iryani said of those to be charged. "The degree of information that each one may know could be different."

Two suicide bombers steered a small boat laden with explosives alongside the U.S. warship and detonated their craft on Oct. 12, tearing a huge hole in the Cole. The blast killed 17 sailors and wounded 39. The Cole had just arrived for refueling in the Aden harbor, about 190 miles south of San'a.

Al-Iryani, speaking in an exclusive AP interview in English, said all of those so far identified as having taken part in the attack — including at least one of the suicide bombers — were Yemeni. The other bomber has not yet been identified, he said.

But al-Iryani said he believed the plot reached far beyond Yemen, involving "international terrorist elements — by international here, I mean Afghans, so-called Arab Afghans, not exclusively Yemeni preparation and execution."

Thousands of Arabs, including many from Yemen, went to Afghanistan to join U.S.-supported guerrillas in fighting Soviet invaders in the 1980s. After that Cold War-era battle ended with the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, many Afghanistan veterans turned their anger against the United States.

America's prime terrorism suspect, Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, is a veteran of the Afghan war.

Al-Iryani said the Cole suicide bombers were too young to have fought in Afghanistan, but that it was possible some of the other plotters soon to be brought to trial were Afghan veterans.

The prime minister added that the Yemeni investigation had not produced any leads as to who outside Yemen may have participated in the plot.