General Faraj Salmin, who commands Yemen's Second Military Zone in the eastern province of Hadramaut, revealed today that the authorities had foiled a massive terrorist attack aimed at the local administrative headquarters in Mukalla.
He said a car loaded with 15 high-explosive bombs had been detected in time before an individual linked to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP, had been able to carry out the attack, averting a major disaster.
Explaining how the attack was foiled, General Salmin said: "We received intelligence about Al Qaeda's plans to launch a major terrorist attack in Al Mukalla aimed at destabilising the city and creating panic amongst its residents.
"With the help of intelligence efforts that were ably assisted by a special team from the coalition forces, we learnt on Monday that the plan was to target the local administrative headquarters in Al Mukalla city in order to liquidate the staff, destroy the infrastructure and paralyse the local government authorities. Following an extensive search, the car, loaded with a huge quantity of explosives, was found."
Concurrently, Yemeni forces, assisted by the Coalition, conducted extensive search operations throughout Mukalla to flush out Al Qaeda elements. During these searches, they arrested a computer expert known as Abu Hafs Al Shahri, who is a key figure in AQAP activities. The arrest of Abu Hafs helped the authorities unearth vital information about the terrorist outfit's plans to target peace and stability in the region.
Special teams from the UAE Armed Forces working as part of the Coalition are providing operational assistance to the Yemeni forces in cleansing the city of AQAP members.
They are also providing much-needed intelligence for the operations. The expertise of the UAE forces in counter-terrorism operations has helped to liberate the city of Mukalla from Al Qaeda and to thwart their plans to establish a quasi-state in the region, the General said.
He added that the purpose behind the thwarted attack was to strike at a prominent symbol of the Yemeni state and to give the people of the city the idea that the recent expulsion of AQAP from Mukalla would be followed by chaos and instability.
"They also wanted to threaten the people with reprisals for cooperating with the Yemeni and Coalition forces," he explained.
During the capture of Abu Hafs, the AQAP IT expert, who was caught in a hideout in the city, a large quantity of CDs were found that contained vital data on plans to destabilise and terrorise southern Yemen. A resident of Shihr province, Abu Hafs has been identified as a key AQAP functionary, whose role was to use his technical expertise in executing the outfit's plans in Yemen and in using social media for propaganda.
The search operations in Mukalla have also uncovered large quantities of lethal weapons, indicative of AQAP's continued ability to launch attacks targeted against the civilian population of the city.