Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemeni authorities pledged to continue to pursue all members of the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) organization in Yemen on Saturday, as Sana’a announced the capture of dozens more militants, including an explosives expert believed to be responsible for numerous deaths.
“Operations to monitor and pursue AQAP terrorists are ongoing and will continue until Sana’a has purged them from all areas where they are located,” Yemen’s state SABA news agency quoted a military official as saying.
Speaking on Thursday, President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi said that Yemen is in a state of “open war” with Al-Qaeda, and that security forces will maintain operations until Sana’a has “stamped out” the group.
“Yemen’s military and security campaign against Al-Qaeda will soon be expanded to include the Marib and Al-Baydha provinces, in addition to the current campaign in Abyan and Shabwa provinces,” he said.
“Al-Qaeda’s barbaric aggression has reached the capital, Sana’a, and we must work to uproot terror by any means necessary,” the president said during a Supreme Security Committee meeting.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Defense Ministry spokesman Mohamed Al-Qaedi said that Sana’a had successfully foiled a number of terrorist operations following the launch of the major military offensive against AQAP in Yemen’s southern Abyan and Shabwa provinces.
“The Ministry of Defense has plans in place to prevent any terrorist acts. The security and intelligence apparatus are carrying out pre-emptive procedures to prevent any such crimes,” he said.
Qaedi said that Yemeni authorities had successfully foiled two major terrorist plots over the past weeks, adding “the time may not be right to reveal the details of this now for security reasons.”
The Interior Ministry on Friday announced the capture of expert bomb-maker Mohamed Hassan Jaafar in Lahij, in the far south of the country. He is believed to have played a role in a number of bombings carried out in Abyan and Shabwa provinces. Jaafar was arrested alongside a number of other AQAP members who were believed to be fleeing from the military offensive and seeking to take over the town.
Earlier this week, the Yemeni military confirmed the death of over thirty AQAP members in Shabwa’s Azzan province, including a number of senior Al-Qaeda commanders.
“The bodies scattered in several locations demonstrate that Al-Qaeda is forcing children to fight on their side, and that will be confirmed by the photos and documents that will be delivered to the media soon,” Commander of the 3rd Military Region, Maj. Gen. Ahmed Saif Al-Yafei, told SABA.