Yemen's Hadramaut province has ramped up its security deployment and military preparations in anticipation of possible al-Qaeda suicide attacks.
After al-Qaeda staged two "gang-style" attacks on Yemeni forces in March, Prime Minister Ahmed Obaid bin Dagher and Hadramaut governor Ahmed Saeed bin Breyk pledged to raise the level of security preparedness.
A deployment of Yemeni and Hadramaut elite forces followed, with armoured vehicles now stationed at the entrances to the provincial capital of al-Mukalla and security checkpoints set up within the city and nearby areas.
On April 2nd, Akhbar Hadramaut newspaper reported that al-Mukalla and nearby coastal areas were on high alert in anticipation of al-Qaeda suicide attacks.
According to the newspaper, published in al-Mukalla by the Institute of Independent Media Monitors, the security and government actions are part of a policy of continued military, administrative and strategic preparedness.
The intensive security measures in and around al-Mukalla "are preventative measures against any attacks by al-Qaeda", Akhbar Hadramaut editor Imad al-Dini told Al-Mashareq.
Security reinforcements are in place "in anticipation of any destructive terrorist plots in Hadramaut to disrupt the stability of the province", he said.
Sleeper cells and arms caches
Al-Qaeda was expelled from al-Mukalla in April 2016 almost one year after it had stormed the city.
In the ensuing months, al-Dini said, "the elite Hadramaut forces have been achieving security gains against al-Qaeda and have uncovered sleeper cells and weapons caches".
These finds have triggered the heightened security alert level, he said, which is based on concerns that al-Qaeda will stage retaliatory suicide attacks.
The elite Hadramaut forces have previously thwarted terror attacks with help from the intelligence services and the joint command operation room, which makes use of satellite technology, he said.
Civilian co-operation with the Yemeni and Hadramaut elite forces and support from the Arab coalition also have contributed towards the "security wins" in the province, said Riyad al-Juhouri, adviser to the Hadramaut governor.
There are several factions trying to undermine the security and stability of Hadramaut, the foremost of which is al-Qaeda, he told Al-Mashareq.
The elite and security forces came across a large warehouse for weapons that was hidden by al-Qaeda in the eastern area of the Hadramaut coast at the beginning of March.
The storage facility contained missiles, mortars and launchers, a security official told Saba news agency.
Light arms also were seized in several homes in the directorates of al-Shahar, Gheil Bawazir and eastern al-Dees, which had been stored there by al-Qaeda elements when they controlled the Hadramaut coast, he said.
The bomb squad deactivated and confiscated those weapons, he said.