Yemen captures 250 al-Qaeda militants since Mukalla victory

Yemen captures 250 al-Qaeda militants since Mukalla victory
Yemeni government forces arrested 250 al-Qaeda members since the militant group was forced out of the strategic Mukalla city, officials said on Friday.
2 min read
14 May, 2016
Militants controlled Mukalla for more than a year [File Photo: AFP]

Two hundred and fifty al-Qaeda militants have been captured by Yemeni government forces since the port Mukalla city was retaken last month, a senior officer said on Friday.

"We have arrested around 250 members of al-Qaeda, including some leaders, since our operations began," General Faraj Salmin, who commands the second military zone in the Hardamawt province, told AFP.

All of the arrests were made in Mukalla and its surroundings, the general said.

"One of these chiefs, Mohammed Saleh al-Orabi who calls himself the emir of Shar, was detained on Thursday," he added.

Mukalla was freed on April 24 when the militants withdrew in response to an offensive launched by the Arab coalition forces, more than a year after the city was captured by al-Qaeda.

More than 13 months of conflict in Yemen has allowed terror groups such as the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda to flourish across the country, with particular focus on the southern region where several areas are under AQAP control.

Terror attacks have been frequent with dozens of police officers and military personnel being killed by militants who accuse the government of "apostasy".

Last week, triple suicide attacks killed more than a dozen navy soldiers from the Arab coalition-backed troops when it struck a military navy camp in Mukalla.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement which names the suicide bomber as Hamza al-Muhajer.

Just a day earlier, three people were killed when a car bomb targeting a military post in Yemen’s Hadramawt region exploded on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Yemen's warring factions are currently engaged in negotiations in the Kuwaiti capital as part of the ongoing peace talks designed to identify a peaceful resolution to the conflict that has killed more than 6,400 people.

Ben Rhodes, one of US president, Barack Obama's closest advisers, urged all warring sides to participate "constructively" in the talks that began last month, saying that a political solution would "allow for a focus on AQAP in Yemen".

Earlier this month, the United States said that "a very small number" of American soldiers were also involved in operations in Yemen.