Yemen foiled a massive terrorist attack by al Qaeda militants that planned to target local administrative headquarters in the city of Mukalla the UAE state news agency WAM said on Thursday.
Security forces found a car laden with 15 high-explosive bombs that an al Qaeda suspect was planning to blow up in that region.
“We received intelligence about al Qaeda’s plans to launch a major terrorist attack in Mukalla aimed at destabilising the city and creating panic amongst its residents,” the news agency quoted General Faraj Salmin, commander of Yemen’s Second Military Zone in the eastern province of Hadramout, as saying.
“With the help of intelligence efforts that were ably assisted by a special team from the Coalition forces, we learnt on Monday that the plan was to target the local administrative headquarters in Al Mukalla city in order to liquidate the staff, destroy the infrastructure and paralyze the local government authorities. Following an extensive search, the car, loaded with a huge quantity of explosives, was found,” Gen. Salmin added.
Regarding the purpose behind the attack, he said that it was targeting a prominent symbol of the Yemeni state to convince people of the city with the idea that the recent expulsion of AQAP from Mukalla would be followed by chaos and instability.
“They also wanted to threaten the people with reprisals for cooperating with the Yemeni and Coalition forces,” he explained.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) largely withdrew from Mukalla in April when government and Emirati soldiers seized the city that had been used by jihadist to amass a fortune amid the chaos of civil war.
Special teams from the UAE Armed Forces are providing operational assistance to Yemeni forces to rid the city of remaining AQAP members.
An al Qaeda IT expert, known as Abu Hafs Al Shahri, was arrested during one of the search operations in the city, WAM said.
Mukalla has been the center of a rich mini-state along the Arabian Sea coastline that AQAP built up over the past year as it exploited conflict between government loyalists backed by a Gulf Arab coalition, which the UAE is part of, and Houthi insurgents allied with Iran.
AQAP, which has planned several foiled bombing attempts on Western-bound airlines and claimed responsibility for the 2015 attack at the Charlie Hebdo magazine’s offices in Paris, sought to carve out a quasi-state last year offering to export 2 million barrels of oil with the approval of Yemen’s government, which refused.