x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Oman on watch for Al Qaeda insurgents from Yemen

Oman is investigating reports that members of Al Qaeda fleeing a US-backed army offensive in neighbouring Yemen have crossed into its territory.

Oman is investigating reports that members of Al Qaeda fleeing a US-backed army offensive in neighbouring Yemen have crossed into Omani territory, a newspaper reported yesterday.

"The security apparatus has received information about Al Qaeda elements infiltrating the territories of the sultanate through Yemen, and checks are under way to track them down to take appropriate action," the Oman newspaper quoted the foreign ministry secretary general, Badr bin Hamad Al Busaidi, as saying. No arrest has been made, he told the paper.

The Yemeni army has driven an Al Qaeda-linked group, Ansar Al Sharia from their strongholds in Southern Yemen in an offensive, and Yemeni officials have said some of its fighters have fled toward a province bordering Oman.

Mr Busaidi said that Oman was on the lookout for "any threat" to itself or any of its neighbours, adding that contact was being made with neighbouring states.

Yesterday, Yemeni officials said landmines planted by Al Qaeda militants before they fled from southern strongholds have killed 73 civilians during the past week. The governor's office in Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, said teams had removed 3,000 landmines around the city and near the southern town of Jaar. The killed civilians were residents of the area.

* With additional reporting by the Associated Press