April 07, 2011
The Yemen-based al-Qaida group seized control over swaths of hundreds of kilometers from Lodar city of Yemen's southern Abyan province to southeast Shabwa province's city of Rodhom, near Balhaf gas port, sources close to the group told Xinhua.
Two local tribal chieftains confirmed the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) set up checkpoints and makeshift military camps from Maeen area in Lodar city of Abyan to Ain Ba-Mabad area in Shabwa's cities of Azzan and Rodhom, where Balhaf gas port is located.
They told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that AQAP also seized the coastal road from Al-Awas in Abyan to Al-Haibala in Shabwa, off the Arab Sea.
Abyan, some 480 km south of the capital Sanaa, is a key stronghold of resurgent al-Qaida wing which have carried out frequent attacks against the Yemeni security and military personnel since 2009.
One of the sources close to the AQAP said the explosion behind the bullets factory in Jaar on March 28 that left 150 people killed was triggered by a cigarette lit by a resident who stormed the plant.
"After AQAP militants took over the plant and seized a number of heavy and armored security vehicles, they moved the gunpowder from the ammunition factory to another safe place," the source told Xinhua, requesting anonymity.
"AQAP then put some of its armed members to guard the plant, but the second day (March 28) the local residents came in large numbers and insisted to go inside the plant to collect the remaining gunpowder," the source said.
"After the residents came into the plant and started to collect some old machines and remaining gunpowder, one of them lit a cigarette, which triggered a series of huge blasts," he added.
Yemen has witnessed weeks-long anti-government protests demanding an immediate end to the 33-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The political crisis recently resulted in deterioration of security stability after the government pulled the police out from some towns of major provinces under the pretext of avoiding potential friction between police and protesters.