Al Mukalla: Local security services in Yemen’s southern province of Lahj have detained three Al Qaida operatives after a successful raid on their village hideout.
An aide to the governor of Lahj told Gulf News on Monday that elite counterterrorism forces stormed a house in a remote village on the outskirts of the town of Touban on Sunday night after receiving intelligence that three militants were plotting attacks against government and military targets in the province.
“The forces exchanged fire with the militants before capturing them. One of the arrested is a leading Al Qaida operative,” the aide, who requested anonymity, said.
After the raid, security authorities displayed mortars shells, ammunition and explosive materials found in the house.
Since early last year, UAE-trained Yemeni forces have dealt a major blow to Al Qaida in Yemen after taking control of the entire province, pushing the militants into hiding. Many fled to smaller villages or escaped to the neighbouring Abyan province.
The official said that as many as 20 Al Qaida and Daesh militants have been detained during many raids in the province.
Militants deemed as not-so-dangerous are freed after pledging not to back Al Qaida.
“Some of the detained people have returned to schools and colleges and became good people,” the official said, adding that most of Al Qaida militants who escaped the army crackdown in the province are hiding in farms or in scattered remote villages in Touban district.
“In the remote villages, the local authority, headed by the governor, formed popular committees that are assigned to alert security services about Al Qaida militants,” the official said.
Months of heavy fighting between government forces and Iran-backed Al Houthis have destroyed security facilities in the provinces, causing a major security vacuum.
Al Qaida has exploited the vacuum to seize a large swathes of land in the province.
Meanwhile, on the battlefield in northern Yemen, Yemen’s ministry of defence has said that an Al Houthi field commander and several militants were killed in fierce clashes with government forces in the province of Hajja.
The official Facebook page of the 5th Military Region said that Ammar Abu Kharfasha was killed in clashes in the city of Haradh on Friday night.
Abu Kharfasha is the second Al Houthi commander in two days reported to be killed in the city.
Government forces, backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition, have killed hundreds of Al Houthi militants and taken control of most Medi city in the Hajja province.