Last updated: 28 June, 2012

Yemen arrests Al-Qaeda terror cell

Yemeni forces have arrested a cell of Al-Qaeda operatives suspected of carrying out a suicide bombing in Sanaa in May that killed more than 100 troops, a security official was quoted as saying Thursday.

“Security forces have captured (members of) the terrorist cell behind the attack on Sabeen Square,” national security chief, Ali Mohammed al-Ansi, was quoted as saying by 26 September, a daily owned and published by the ministry of defence.

He was referring to the location of the May 21 bombing in Sanaa that targeted troops rehearsing for a military parade. Ansi gave no further details about the arrest.

On June 20, security forces had announced the arrest of Majed al-Qulaisi, a member of the Al-Qaeda cell that planned the deadly suicide attack.

Al-Ansi vowed to continue the “hunt” for Al-Qaeda fighters, saying security forces have carried out a “series of operations against Al-Qaeda terrorists” across Yemen.

Last week, Yemeni troops took control of the southeastern town of Azzan, the last Al-Qaeda bastion in Yemen’s troubled southern and eastern provinces where the militants had established total control.

Al-Qaeda had declared an Islamic emirate in the desert town where hundreds of fighters were believed to have sought refuge after fleeing their strongholds in nearby Abyan province.

Taking advantage of a weakening central government control by an Arab Spring-inspired uprising last year, the militants had overrun most of Abyan, capturing its capital Zinjibar, towns like Jaar, Shuqra and several other villages.

On May 12, Yemen’s military launched an all-out offensive to recapture the province.

The army and local militiamen claim to have succeeded in taking over all of Abyan’s towns except for Mahfad where jihadists still have a strong presence.