Last updated: 16 May, 2014

Yemen president vows assault on all Al-Qaeda bastions

The Yemeni president has vowed to clear Al-Qaeda from all its remaining bastions, saying that an offensive launched by the army in the south last month would be extended nationwide.

“The battle against the terrorist organisation is open-ended,” President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi told security chiefs late Thursday.

Hadi spoke as the interior ministry announced it had foiled a number of “cowardly terrorist operations” in the capital, including attacks on embassies, and arrested several “terrorists”.

“The armed forces and the security services should prepare operations to clear these terrorists from Abyan, Shabwa, Baida, Marib and everywhere they have set foot,” Hadi said in comments carried by the official Saba news agency.

The southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa and the neighbouring central province of Baida have been the focus of the offensive which the army launched on April 29.

But Al-Qaeda is also firmly implanted in Marib province east of Sanaa and in Hadramawt farther east.

Hadi ordered that “all possible means” be used against the jihadists, warning that their “aggression has reached the capital and has begun to disturb its daily life”.

Despite a massive security alert in Sanaa because of potential Al-Qaeda reprisals, militants twice struck checkpoints near the presidential palace last week.

The interior ministry said late Thursday that security forces “foiled several attacks that the Al-Qaeda terrorist organisation was preparing for Sanaa”.

The security operation uncovered plots to “attack vital government installations, security and military centres and some foreign embassies”, the ministry website said.

It did not say which embassies were thought to have been targets.

Several “suicide-bombing terrorists, including foreigners” were arrested, the ministry said.

The jihadists’ Yemen franchise, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, took advantage of a 2011 uprising that forced veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh from power to seize large swathes of the south and east.

The army recaptured several major towns in 2012 but has struggled to reassert control in rural areas despite recruiting militia allies among the local tribes.