Yemenis decry attacks on al-Mukalla checkpoints

By Abu Bakr al-Yamani in Sanaa


Al-Mukalla residents run for cover as smoke rises following a Monday (July 18th) al-Qaeda car bomb attack on an army checkpoint in the Hadramaut provincial capital. [Abduljabbar Bajubair/ AFP]

Yemeni citizens and public officials strongly condemned the twin suicide bombings claimed by al-Qaeda that targeted army checkpoints in the Hadramaut provincial capital of al-Mukalla on Monday (July 18th).

Yemeni troops backed by coalition forces liberated the southern port city from al-Qaeda on April 24th.

"At 6:10 a.m. Monday morning, terrorist elements attacked military checkpoints in al-Ghabr and Burum," the 2nd Military Region Command in Hadramaut said in a statement carried by Yemeni media.

"Al-Ghabr checkpoint was attacked with a booby-trapped vehicle and the Burum checkpoint with a booby-trapped bus," the statement said.

Although soldiers at the checkpoints were able to intercept the vehicles and prevent them from getting past the security barriers, six soldiers were killed and 18 were wounded in the process, according to the statement.

Local media reported that four civilians also were killed in the attack.

The 2nd Military Region Command described the attacks as "despicable acts" and called on the public to co-operate with the relevant security agencies to apprehend those behind the attacks and prevent future attacks from occurring.

"The killers and criminals are destined to meet their demise," he said.

A commission of inquiry has been formed to investigate the circumstances of these incidents and take the necessary counter-measures, the command said.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings via social media the same day.

Stamping out terrorism

The suicide bombings "intensify the army’s determination to eradicate terrorism and engage in an open war with it for Hadramaut's security and stability", said Hadramaut province governor Ahmed Saeed bin Breyk.

The recent incident shows that soldiers are willing to sacrifice their lives to maintain the security and stability of Hadramaut and the safety of its residents, he told Al-Mashareq.

"The people of Hadramaut, and al-Mukalla in particular, condemn the terrorist attacks that took place, but they are proud of the soldiers and [troops at the] security checkpoints who prevented the car bombs from reaching their targets," al-Mukalla directorate head Salim bin Ali Abu Bakr told Al-Mashareq.

Citizens lauded the soldiers for sacrificing their lives for the province's security, Abu Bakr said, adding that the positive interaction between the public and the army will lead to further co-operation.

The province’s leadership is developing plans to enhance Hadramaut’s security and stability, Abu Bakr said, noting that al-Mukalla directorate has been conducting anti-extremism awareness campaign in mosques and public places.

This will be followed by a second campaign in schools "to inoculate children and the youth against extremist groups, who seek to destroy and kill", he said.

'Hadramaut rejects extremism'

"Hadramaut rejects all forms of extremism and terrorism, as it has been burned by the attacks carried out by these groups during the year when al-Qaeda controlled the city of al-Mukalla," said Hadramaut native Osama Belfkih.

The people of Hadramout cannot stop at condemning the attacks, he said, they must assist the security forces in all ways possible to confront extremist groups.

"Deeming it permissible to take innocent lives is not sanctioned by religion and human values," said Hadramaut native Ahmed Badwilan, an adviser to the Ministry of Information.

Combating terrorism must be a joint community effort, he told Al-Mashareq.

"We all must work, each from his role on the family level as well as scholars, preachers, teachers, the media, society and the state, because the fight against terrorism and extremism is the responsibility of all people," he said.

There is a need for a national awareness programme to protect youth from being misled by extremist groups and to channel their energy for the good of society and the country, he added.

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First of all, our condolences to the victims of this terrorist suicide act. Second, isn’t this puppet government taking part in the conspiracy to destroy Yemen in addition to killing and slaughtering the people of Yemen? Who brought ISIL terrorism for you to fight Ansar Allah and the army who are concerned about Yemen and the people? I hope that the leaders who defected from the legitimacy of Ansar Allah, who are protecting Yemen, will consult their conscience and join the people of truth before a day comes when no remorse or excuse can work.