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Prominent al-Qaeda leader in Abyan surrenders to Yemeni forces

By Abu Bakr al-Yamani in Sanaa

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Yemeni forces advance towards the entrance of Abyan province as part of an operation to drive al-Qaeda fighters out of Zinjibar, the southern provincial capital, on April 23rd, 2016. [Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP]

A top al-Qaeda leader turned himself in to Yemeni security forces on Thursday (November 2nd) in the midst of a campaign to purge extremist elements from al-Mahfad district in southern Yemen, a local official told Al-Mashareq.

Mohammed Awad Mehfar, one of al-Qaeda's senior leaders in Abyan province, has surrendered to the commander of the rapid response forces, Abdul Latif al-Sayed, al-Mahfad director-general Ahmed al-Rabie told Al-Mashareq.

Al-Sayed turned Mehfar over to the Arab coalition forces command in Aden, he said.

This comes as joint Security Belt and rapid response forces tasked with enforcing security in al-Mahfad are working with locals to capture any remaining al-Qaeda elements in the district.

Al-Mahfad, al-Qaeda’s last stronghold in the southern province of Abyan, was liberated from the group's control on October 29th.

"The Security Belt and rapid response forces carried out a comb-and-search campaign at the houses of some elements with links to al-Qaeda leaders," al-Rabie said.

The campaign primarily aimed to apprehend foreign al-Qaeda elements that are still hiding in the district, he said.

Al-Mahfad is witnessing enhanced security and stability following the deployment of security forces in the area, he added.

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