Al-Mukalla on alert after thwarted Ramadan attack

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


Yemeni forces ride in the back of a pickup truck with mounted heavy machine gun while closing in on a suspected location of an al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader during an offensive in Wadi al-Masini in Hadramaut province on February 21st. [Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP]

Yemen's 2nd Military District has tightened security in the Hadramaut provincial capital of al-Mukalla and nearby towns after security forces thwarted a major terrorist operation targeting the southern port city.

Hadramaut elite forces, security and intelligence agencies succeeded in preventing an attack targeting several sites in al-Mukalla in the final days of Ramadan, Hadramaut governor Faraj al-Bahsani said Tuesday (June 12th).

Al-Qaeda elements intended to blow up more than one site in the city as residents prepared for the feast of Eid al-Fitr, he said.

"The security, military and intelligence agencies had been closely monitoring preparations for this destructive operation until it was put together and the zero hour came," he said in a statement.

"However, our heroes were quicker to fend off that despicable plot," he added.

"A force comprising military, security, intelligence and engineering elements at dawn Tuesday raided the site where the terrorists were hiding and where they brought together various destructive assets," al-Bahsani said in the statement.

The plotters intended "to cause as much damage as possible and kill as many innocent people as they could in the remaining days of Ramadan", he added.

Items found at the targeted site in al-Hilla district included 28 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), two explosive vests, two heat-seeking missiles, three bags of C-4 explosives, and a large amount of ammunition, he said.

"These items are capable of causing major destruction," he added.

Security forces on maximum alert

Security agencies have been placed on maximum alert to counter the plots of al-Qaeda, 2nd Military District spokesman Hesham al-Jabri told Al-Mashareq.

"Elite forces and security agencies are already on full alert to counter terrorist plots," he said. "Nonetheless, they have ramped up their security precautions to counter any dangers threatening the security and safety of Hadramaut."

"The governor also has urged all the people of Hadramaut to co-operate with the security and military agencies and to report any suspected movements," he added.

"The site which was raided by our forces was being used for preparing and planning terrorist operations," he said. "It also was used as an assembly point for al-Qaeda elements who do not hail from al-Mukalla."

The intelligence-based effort, which discovered the terrorist operation aimed at targeting innocent people and destroying vital interests, achieved positive results because it relied on co-operation with the local community, al-Jabri said.

"It was supported by the Arab coalition, which backs Yemen’s legitimate government," he added.

The 2nd Military District’s elite forces have recently launched several operations targeting extremists in various areas of Hadramaut.

These include Operation al-Faisal, carried out in Wadi al-Masini on February 17th, and Operation Black Mounts, launched April 28th, in which security forces were deployed to north-western Hadramaut to secure it against al-Qaeda.

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