Yemen nets suspects after al-Mukalla attacks

By Abu Bakr al-Yamani in Sanaa


Residents of the southern city of al-Mukalla attend a funeral for the victims of a series of June 27th suicide attacks claimed by the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant'. [Photo courtesy of almukallanow Twitter account]

Yemeni security forces in the Hadramaut provincial capital of al-Mukalla conducted a series of raids and arrests in the southern port city in the aftermath of a string of Monday (June 27th) suicide bombings.

They succeeded in netting a number of suspects in connection with a deadly series of attacks claimed by the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) that targeted a military camp and security checkpoints during Ramadan.

The attacks killed 40 soldiers, as well as a woman and child who were passing by, and wounded 37 other people, Hadramaut's health chief Riad al-Jalili said on the day of the attacks, with some reports putting the death toll higher.

"A military-security campaign succeeded in arresting a number of cells and suspected terrorist elements in the city of al-Mukalla less than 24 hours after the terrorist bombings at the three military sites," said Maj. Gen. Faraj Salmeen al-Bahsani, commander of al-Mukalla 2nd Military Region.

"The campaign targeted those suspected of having ties to terrorist groups that carried out the attack," he told Al-Shorfa.

The attackers exploited iftar

In the first attack, al-Bahsani said, a man approached a military checkpoint and "pretended to be a philanthropist distributing meals to fasters".

He handed over a box that he said contained an iftar meal, which "exploded when the soldiers opened it after the call for the evening prayers sounded".

In the second incident, he said, a man asked soldiers at another military checkpoint "if he could have the iftar meal with them, and detonated his explosives belt amid them".

The third attack targeted "an elite forces camp with a car bomb and four terrorists wearing explosive belts", al-Bahsani said.

"The soldiers were able to mitigate the damage by blowing up the car bomb outside the camp and killing two of the bombers before they could detonate their explosives belt," he said. "However, the other two suicide bombers were able to detonate theirs."

The attacks motivated residents to increase their co-operation by reporting all suspected individuals to the security forces, al-Bahsani said.

They also spurred many residents and members of area tribes "to have their youth join the military and security agencies to help get rid of the nightmare of these terrorist groups, in defence of their land and interests", he said.

"All who participated in these attacks, taking advantage of a humanitarian moment to rig iftar meals with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and [detonate] explosive belts and car bombs, will meet their fate sooner or later," he said.

Perpetrators 'abandoned humanity'

"This is a deplorable crime and heinous act that is inconsistent with customs, morality and religion," said Hadramaut province deputy governor Abdul Hadi Abdullah al-Tamimi.

"Those who perpetrated these acts have abandoned their humanity and human nature and disowned the human race," he added.

The attackers "had been brainwashed to agree to carry out such attacks against soldiers in the month of Ramadan at iftar time", he said, adding that it is clear the only purpose of the attacks was to kill for the sake of killing.

"Yemen is part of this world that suffers from terrorism," al-Tamimi said, explaining that the fragile security situation in Yemen makes it easier for militants to implement their plans, despite all security and military efforts.

He called for the establishment of a security apparatus to prevent such incidents and attacks, noting that security requires a comprehensive apparatus that must encompass all provinces.

He also called for influential figures in Hadramaut to work together to create a shared vision and encourage residents to fully support the local authorities.

"Sharia is innocent of these terrorist acts that targeted soldiers," Yemen Scholars Association member Sheikh Yahya al-Najjar told Al-Shorfa.

Islam sanctifies blood and forbids the taking of life, al-Najjar said, noting that the Qur'an states that "whoever kills a soul…it is as if he killed all of mankind".

Meanwhile, these groups "aim to kill dozens of people", al-Najjar added.

Hadramaut province trader Emad Salem also condemned the Ramadan attacks, which he said made "al-Mukalla live through a difficult, dark and sad night because of the heinousness of carrying out the crime at the time of iftar".

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