Shabwa elite forces stationed in the town of Azzan on Sunday (January 20th) began to deploy in the province's Habban district, where they set up military checkpoints in order to secure al-Arm area, Yemeni officials said.
The move is intended to prevent al-Qaeda elements from infiltrating into the area from Abyan province's al-Mahfad district and other neighbouring areas, where they face a security crackdown by Security Belt Forces.
"Shabwa elite forces have set up security checkpoints on the Shabwa-al-Mahfad border to prevent the terrorists from moving between Shabwa and al-Mahfad," said Shabwa Elite Forces Commander Lt. Col. Mohammed Salem al-Buhr.
This is designed to "tighten the noose on al-Qaeda elements who are being chased by the Security Belt Forces in Abyan province", he said in a statement.
Shabwa elite forces intend to secure the "strategic" al-Arm area, where the Shabwa-Aden highway passes through, he said.
"That point will serve as a spearhead in preventing the flow and smuggling of arms and contraband to and from Shabwa province," he added. "With this measure, we can further expand the areas where carrying firearms is banned."
Constant security co-ordination
"Shabwa elite forces are constantly co-ordinating with the Security Belt Forces in Abyan province about the war on al-Qaeda elements in neighbouring al-Mahfad," al-Buhr said.
Al-Mahfad mayor Ahmed al-Rabei told Al-Mashareq the current deployment of Shabwa elite forces in Habban district will prevent al-Qaeda elements from moving between Abyan and Shabwa provinces through neighbouring districts.
"Al-Qaeda elements escape to Shabwa province when the Security Belt Forces carry out military crackdowns against them," he said.
"And when the Shabwa elite forces carry out military campaigns against them, they move to al-Mahfad, Mudiyah and other districts in Abyan to escape," he added, noting that the rough terrain helps al-Qaeda elements avoid detection.
Al-Rabei called for further military and security co-ordination between the Security Belt Forces and Shabwa elite forces, suggesting that both sides carry out simultaneous crackdowns against the extremist group.