Al Mukalla: Dozens of Al Qaida and Daesh militants including senior figures in Yemen have surrendered to security services in the southern province of Lahj, the security chief of the province told Gulf News on Tuesday.

“Eight senior figures in Daesh and Al Qaida have given themselves up to security authorities,” Brigadier General Adel Al Halimi said. “Abdul Rahman Al Adani, a senior Al Qaida militant who masterminded terrorist attacks in Aden and Lahj, surrendered to security services nine days ago.”

Al Qaida and other militant groups last year captured large swathes of land in many provinces in Southern Yemen cashing in on a security vacuum during fighting between government forces and Al Houthis. The Saudi-led coalition of mainly UAE military officers have recruited, trained and armed hundreds of local fighters who recaptured most of the south including Aden, Lahj and Hadramout from Al Qaida and Daesh affiliates.

Al Halimi said that dozens of junior militants have either surrendered or been arrested by army troops in the province since April. “We have released the figures who had previously joined the militants for financial reasons. They have denounced violence and are now actively helping us,” he said.

Government forces began consecutive military assaults on Al Qaida strongholds in the south in April. Backed by the coalition’s air support, the forces seized Huta, the capital of Lahj and many other districts. In the same month, massive UAE-trained forces recaptured the city of Al Mukalla, the capital of Hadramout province and Yemen’s fifth largest city, from Al Qaida.

Al Halimi thinks that Al Qaida threat to the province has waned and the militants would not be able to make a comeback. “The province is out of danger. This bogeymen [Al Qaida and Daesh] were defanged”.

The security official cited two main driving factors behind the successes of his forces in purging the militants from the province. “We have applied an iron fist policy and approached local dignitaries, tribal chiefs and preachers. We have asked them to convince the deluded people to abandon Al Qaida.”

Al Halimi also hailed “generous” support from the coalition to the forces that liberated Lahj from Al Qaida. In Hadramout, local security officials revealed on Tuesday that elite forces raided on Friday a hospital in Seiyun, the second important city in the province, where a “senior” Al Qaida militant was receiving medical treatment. A security official who oversaw the raid said on condition of anonymity that the forces arrested the man and four others who were guarding him outside the hospital.