Last updated: 7 August, 2013

Yemen foils Al-Qaeda plot to seize cities and oil terminal

Yemeni authorities have foiled an Al-Qaeda plot to seize control of two cities and an oil export terminal and to kidnap foreigners, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.

“The main aim of the plot was to seize control of two cities, Al-Mukalla and Ghayl Bawazeer” in the southeast, Rajeh Badi told AFP, adding that oil export facilities near Mukalla were also to be targeted.

Foreigners working at the terminal were to be kidnapped as well, he said.

He said that the Mina al-Dhaba oil terminal west of Mukalla, and a nearby export facility for oil derivatives, were to be targeted by militants disguised in army uniforms.

“They would demonstrate pretending to be guards demanding bonuses… and then storm the port,” he said.

“If they were to fail in seizing control of the facilities, the plan was to take foreign experts away as hostages,” he added.

The attack was planned for the 27th day of Ramadan, the fasting month for Muslims, which coincided with Monday, August 5.

The plot was foiled around two days before it was due to be launched, Badi said.

Another thwarted plan was to attack a main gas pipeline in the southeast province of Shabwa, that would cut exports of liquefied gas from the Balhaf terminal southwest of Mukalla, Badi said.

The Yemeni revelation is the first indication of the nature of an Al-Qaeda threat that prompted the mass closures of US diplomatic missions in the region and farther afield from Sunday.