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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

Yemenis in Hadramawt demand UAE-backed forces take over security

Civilians blame a string of recent assassinations on lax security by First Military Zone forces

A member of Yemeni government forces takes position during an offensive against Houthi positions on the outskirts of the western port city of Hodeidah, Yemen, 26 July 2018. EPA
A member of Yemeni government forces takes position during an offensive against Houthi positions on the outskirts of the western port city of Hodeidah, Yemen, 26 July 2018. EPA

Civilians in Yemen’s south-eastern Hadramawt have demanded that UAE-backed elite Hadrami forces take over security in the province following a string of assassinations.

Townspeople in Al Katen, Tarim, and Sayoun began a strike on Thursday, demanding the army forces of the First Military Zone which are tasked with securing the towns hand over the mission to Hadrami forces.

Officers of the First Military Zone forces are believed to be close to the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Al Islah Party, while its solders are largely drawn from northern regions controlled by Houthi rebels, a resident from Tarim said, speaking to The National on condition of anonymity.

Some locals believe the force is complicit in a recent series assassinations targeting police officers and political activists in Sayoun and Tarim, Mohammed Bahadad a journalist from Hadramawt told The National.

In protest, “people shuttered their stores, the markets closed and the streets were fully emptied,” Mr Bahadad said.

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“Our goal is to dismiss the armed forces of the First Military Zone,” the resident said. “We don't trust them to secure our areas.”

Hadrami forces are currently stationed in Al Mukala and the other coastal districts in Hadramawt. The resident spoken to said he believed these areas had been more stable with the elite forces heading security.

The recent killings in Al Katen, Sayoun, Tarim have targeted commanders and political activists loyal to the Southern Transitional council. The latest incident occurred on June 29, when unknown gunmen killed three civilians in Sayoun district.

Hadramawt is one of Yemen’s largest provinces. Between 2015 and earlier this year, much of the province was controlled by Al Qaeda.