Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi offered condolences in the aftermath of a deadly attack on an Abyan checkpoint, and called on the province's leadership and security forces operating there to raise their level of vigilance.
Five soldiers were killed and four were wounded in a Friday morning (July 19th) al-Qaeda attack on a checkpoint in the Lahmar area of the province's Mudiyah district, the Security Belt Forces said in a statement.
The assailants carried out an attack with machine-guns, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and medium-calibre weapons on soldiers manning the checkpoint, the UAE-backed force said.
In a cable of condolence, Hadi said the hand of justice will reach the perpetrators of the attack, who are trying in vain to sow unrest and sedition and undermine security and stability.
In a visit to the Lahmar checkpoint to offer his condolences, Security Belt Forces commander in Abyan Brig. Gen. Abdul Latif al-Sayed vowed to root out terrorism.
The soldiers' blood will not be shed in vain, he said, stressing that such incidents will only strengthen the resolve and determination of the security forces to pursue and root out the perpetrators and restore security and stability.
Commitment to security
Abyan province deputy governor Abdul Aziz al-Hamzah said security forces will continue to carry out their task of pursuing terrorist elements and will carry out their duty of maintaining security and stability, "no matter the cost".
A local official in Mudiyah district who asked not to be named told Al-Mashareq that terrorist elements seized a military pickup truck belonging to the Security Belt Forces at the Lahmar checkpoint.
They set fire to another military pickup truck, an armoured vehicle and other military equipment belonging to the security checkpoint, he said.
The attacks came after a period of calm in the district, he said, "which had seen the checkpoint’s soldiers lower their level of alertness and readiness".
Al-Qaeda has previously suffered heavy losses in Mudiyah district, he noted, calling on soldiers in the district to remain on full alert at all times.
Need for extreme caution
The al-Qaeda attack on the security checkpoint in Abyan province was anticipated, political analyst and writer Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.
He noted that the Interior Minister had on June 30th issued directives to the governor of Abyan and commanders of the various security forces to raise their level of readiness and develop plans to install additional checkpoints.
Al-Qaeda lost a number of its fighters and also its most important training camp in Wadi Omran, north-east of Mudiyah district, in a February 23rd battle with Yemeni and Arab coalition forces, Ahmed noted.
Therefore soldiers manning security checkpoints must exercise extreme caution, he said.
Ahmed pointed to the losses al-Qaeda has sustained in most districts of Abyan, after controlling them for periods of time, and said this means the battle against the group is likely to require time and patience.