Yemeni forces holding 250 Al Qaeda militants after retaking Mukalla
Aden // Yemeni government forces have captured around 250 Al Qaeda members since they retook Mukalla last month, a top officer said on Friday.
“We have arrested around 250 members of Al Qaeda, including some leaders, since our operations began,” Brig Gen Faraj Salmeen said.
Brig Gen Salmin commands the second military region which includes Mukalla, capital of the vast desert province of Hadramout and the largest city in the Yemen’s south-east.
The port city was retaken from the extremists on April 24.
“One of these chiefs, Mohammed Saleh Al Orabi who calls himself the emir of Shar, was detained on Thursday” in the area of the same name about 60 kilometres east of Mukalla, Brig Gen Salmeen said.
All of the arrests were made in Mukalla and its surroundings, he said.
Brig Gen Salmeen’s home was targeted by a suicide car bomber on Thursday at the same time as a similar attack was carried out at a nearby naval base in the Khalaf area west of Mukalla. He escaped unhurt but a least 13 Yemeni soldiers were killed and dozens injured in the attck on the base, which was claimed by ISIL.
Both Al Qaeda and ISIL have taken advantage of the civil war between the government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels to seize territory and stage attacks on government figures.
Al Qaeda occupied Mukalla in April last year, shortly after a Saudi-led coalition intervened in the war to support the government, and imposed strict Islamic law on residents.
Special forces from the UAE, a member of a Saudi-led coalition, played a major role in retaking the city.
* With reporting from Agence France-Presse
Updated: May 13, 2016 04:00 AM