Al-Qaeda attempts to seize Lahj
A local journalist in Lahj, Ahmed Al-Amodi, said that Al-Qaeda operatives used light weapons and machine guns to attack the position. He said that several soldiers were killed and a tank was burnt in the battle.
Eyewitnesses said the militants seized control of some military equipment and then escaped.
Operatives of the Ansar Al-Shariah group said in a statement on Saturday that they had killed 30 soldiers and captured an unstated number of others. Al-Qaeda also affirmed that it had captured two tanks, three military vehicles and Kalashnikovs.
The media office of Ansar Al-Shariah (supporters of Islamic law) released a statement on Saturday saying that the organization had captured military positions in Al-Haroor on Saturday. The military position includes a military base located on the road linking Jaar, Batais and Al-Malah, within Abyan governorate.
After the incident, security forces reinforced their presence in the region. Al-Amodi said that an estimated 20 military personnel were at the military checkpoint, and that warplanes continued flying over the governorate to pursue Al-Qaeda operatives.
The governor of Lahj, Ahmed Al-Majeedi said that Al-Qaeda militants attacked the military position in the Al-Haroor area on Saturday, but denied that the militants had taken over any position.
“The army managed to kick the armed men out of the area,” Al-Majeedi said in a conversation with the Yemen Times on Sunday.
He affirmed that some soldiers were killed, but said that the number was less than the 30 reported by Ansar Al-Shariah. Al-Majeedi said he had no strict numbers on casualties, nor any information about the soldiers claimed captured by Al-Qaeda.
He explained that Lahj has been witnessing growing insecurity and this has enabled the attempts by Ansar Al-Shariah to take over the governorate. He ruled out that the group would be successful.
Al-Majeedi reiterated that measures have been taken to enhance security in the governorate, pointing out that the former security chiefs have been replaced by new ones to restore security.
Deterioration in security
Peace and calm returned to Lahj on Tuesday and Wednesday following four days of insecurity and instability over the entire governorate.
It was claimed that unknown armed men seized control of Al-Hamra village located close to Al-Hota city, the capital of Lahj.
On Saturday March 24, instability escalated in Al-Huta and neighboring areas after security forces fired upon a minibus carrying 16 passengers that refused to stop at a checkpoint.
A child, Mohammad Hamid, was killed in the attack, and his mother was wounded and taken to hospital. Another person was shot in the leg.
A lawyer, Abdullah Al-Awjari, says security forces were deployed extensively following the event and clashes erupted between security forces and unidentified armed men.
He said that security the forces prevented people from entering or leaving the city from Saturday until Monday. Clashes have ceased and the situation has remained calm since Tuesday.
According to Al-Awjari, residents of Al-Hamra, Thalab and Haram neighboring Al-Huta, could not use the main streets due to the security problems.
"Now, security and stability has returned to Lahj, but security forces are still largely deployed,” he added. Abdu Al-Radfani, who owns a vehicle he uses to sell stone, said the situation has become better, and that he can travel to areas outside the governorate without any obstacles.
He said that there were only three checkpoints manned by central security and the police force positioned on the road, and that there were military personnel and tanks near the checkpoints.
Some media outlets close to the former regime, in particular the Al-Aqeeq satellite TV channel, have claimed that Al-Qaeda operatives have seized control of Al-Hamra in Lahj, but Al-Radfani denied the existence of Al-Qaeda in that area.
A lawyer residing in Lahj, Abdul-Naser Al-Arabi, ruled out the presence of Al-Qaeda in Al-Hamra, affirming that the people there have traditions and customs that hinder the presence of Ansar Al-Sharia.
He accused security officials loyal to Saleh of provoking unrest in Lahj with the aim of hampering the political transition. He affirmed that many areas where activists of the Southern Movement were active have become calm after reaching a political settlement.
Al-Arabi claimed that the former regime is attempting to foment chaos nationwide.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister Mohammed Basindawa, issued decrees changing the security officials of the governorate, including the appointment of a new security chief for Lahj, Abdul-Hakeem Ahmed Shaif.