ADEN, (AFP) – Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has issued a statement threatening to kill 55 named policemen in Yemen’s restive southern province of Abyan.
In a statement distributed in the provincial capital Zinjibar, AQAP lists the police officers and says “they have become legitimate targets for us from Friday,” the first day of the Eid al-Fitr feast marking the end of Ramadan.
The group calls on them “to repent in public at Zinjibar mosque following Friday prayers or be killed,” said the statement, the authenticity of which could not be confirmed.
The list named 31 state security officers, 15 members of the judiciary police and nine members of military intelligence, a police officer whose name is on the list told AFP.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the officer said those who issued the statement were trying to “break the morale” of the police.
“We haven’t taken much notice of the threat, apart from taking some preventative measures,” he said.
A local official added: “We have received instructions to avoid gatherings in public places.”
“We are truly afraid,” he said, adding that armed and masked men distributed the statement in Zinjibar market with no police intervention.
AQAP members operate openly in south Yemen, handing out leaflets in mosques and launching ever more audacious attacks against the security forces.
Militants have claimed responsibility for a series of deadly attacks in recent weeks, including murdering a security services official in Yemen’s eastern Marib province.