March 5, 2012
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi on Monday raised emergency alert level in the military to the maximum amid deadly attacks by al-Qaida in the country's southern provinces, security officials told Xinhua.
The move came one day after the death toll from fighting in the southern restive province of Abyan between al-Qaida militants and government troops rose to 130.
"President Hadi issued orders demanding all combat forces, including the air force, to fully prepare for confronting al-Qaida in the southern provinces of Abyan, Aden, Lahj and al-Bayda," the officials told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
"The order was made during a meeting in Sanaa on Monday between Hadi and generals of the Republican Guards, Special Forces, Central Security Forces and southern military brigades," they said, adding that "a plan for unleashing a massive offensive against the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was set to be carried out within the next few days."
"A brigade of the Republican Guards and three battalions of the Central Security Forces in Sanaa were ordered on Monday to move to Lahj, Aden and western borders of Abyan to confront al-Qaida militants," they said.
A provincial security official in Aden told Xinhua by phone that "two special units from the Republican Guards and Counterterrorism Force arrived on Monday evening in al-Alam area, in the eastern part of Aden and adjacent to Abyan, as they were airlifted earlier the day from Sanaa."
The development came a few hours after al-Qaida wing claimed responsibility for bombing an Antonov military cargo plane inside Al-Dailamy Air Force in the capital Sanaa, which was exploded one day ago.
Al-Qaida said bombing the plane came within 'Cutting the Tail' operations planned against the Yemeni government troops and said it captured 70 soldiers after it overrun a military base in the southern restive province of Abyan on Sunday.
Yemeni government officials said on Monday that the death toll from Sunday's battle against al-Qaida has risen to 130, and dozens of others were wounded.
The al-Qaida group said on Monday that despite the resistance of government forces and air raids during the Sunday battle, only two of its fighters were killed and 13 others wounded.
"We are sending a clear message to the Yemeni government which is to stop advancing to Zinjibar and Jaar (al-Qaida-held towns in Abyan), otherwise we have the capability to rain down you with flooding attacks in all your places," said a statement by the AQAP, obtained by Xinhua on Monday.
Elsewhere in Aden, a huge bomb blast hit the headquarters of a local military intelligence agency in the southern port city of Aden on Monday morning, but caused no casualties, a police officer told Xinhua, saying the attack bore the hallmarks of the AQAP, as several intelligence units had been attacked over the past few months.
Also in Aden, Police Chief of Aden's 6th precinct colonel Abdullah al-Muzi'e survived an assassination attempt by al-Qaida militants on Monday, but his bodyguard was killed, the Defence Ministry said in a statement posted on its website.
In the southeast province of al-Bayda, a provincial security official and witnesses told Xinhua that al-Qaida militants took over a security outpost outside the province's central city on Monday afternoon, where they killed a soldier and wounded five others.
Al-Qaida launched attacks a week after the Yemeni government gave the terrorist group a seven-day ultimatum to quit the captured cities in Abyan.
Meanwhile, Hadi announced on Monday that his government is determined to confront terrorism with full force, according to the state Saba news agency.
"We determined to confront terrorism with full force ... and whatever it takes, we will continue to hunt terrorists down to their final hideout," Saba quoted Hadi as saying when he met with a senior British official in Sanaa.
According to Saba, Hadi said the growing terrorism in Yemen is a result of the country's weak economy. "Economic problems are the most prominent reasons behind joining poor youths to al-Qaida network," Hadi said.
Hadi was elected Yemeni president to lead the government in the two-year interim period last month, after former president, the 33- year ruler, Ali Abdullah Saleh handed over power under a UN-backed power transfer deal brokered by neighboring oil-rich Arab Gulf countries, aiming to restore stability in the impoverished Arab state following a year of unrest.
Local observers said that Hadi had started to carry out reforms during his first two weeks to increase supplies of electricity, water, and stabilize the exchange rate of the country's currency.
However, suicide car bombs and violent attacks against the army have increased over the past two weeks. A deadly suicide bombing targeting two weeks ago the presidential palace in the southern province of Hadramout killed nearly 30 Republican Guards, at the same day when Hadi was sworn in at the parliament. The al-Qaida wing claimed responsibility for the attack in the following day.
The AQAP attacks underscore the challenges facing the new president who won support from major political forces, the United States and Saudi Arabia. He is tasked with restoring security and stability to Yemen and putting an end to growing influence of al- Qaida that threatens the daily oil shipping routes in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.