Dubai: Yemeni security forces in the port city of Aden have captured members of a death squad responsible for targeting scores of security officers, judges, and government officials including the governor of Aden, local security official close to the city’s chief security told Gulf News on Thursday.

The strategic city in Southern Yemen has seen an unprecedented wave of assassinations since liberation from Al Houthis and their allied forces in July. The head of this cell is called Helmi Al Zinji, an Al Qaida operative in Aden who was disguised as a member of the resistance that fought off Al Houthis in Aden.

Al Zinji was arrested in Abyan last month after fleeing Aden. “Police who quizzed him say that he was heading a terrorist death squad working for Al Qaida and killed many people in Aden,” the official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press. Among the prominent victims of this assassination ring was the governor of Aden, Major General Jaafer Mohammad Saad who was killed in car bomb explosion in December.

Al Zinji and his group used to be based in Mansoura district, a former hiding place for militiamen, until government forces booted them out in the wake of a big military campaign last month.

“He fled to Lahj and then to Abyan after the security campaign. Resistance fighters in Abyan captured him and handed him to security forces in Aden,” The officials said local security apparatus has arrested many “high-value” terrorists who are kept inside the Arab coalition camps in Aden. “Dangerous elements are incarcerated inside the coalition’s camps since our prisoners are not secured enough,” he said.

The official said most terrorists who carry out assassinations in Aden sneak out or into of the city from the lawless Lahj province where the coalition’s helicopters and warplanes have been recently seen striking many Al Qaida controlled positions.

The official said Aden-based ministry of interior, backed by the UAE military forces in Aden, approved a security plan to restore security to Lahj as to curb flow of Al Qaida elements to Aden. “A military campaign will be launched in the coming days from Aden. All ground forces are from the resistance and recently trained national army. These forces will be supported by the coalition air forces.”

Security situation has noticeably improved in Aden after a string of military raids on armed groups hideouts and ammunition depots in the city.