Captured soldiers in Abyan released
ABYAN, April 29 — Ansar Al-Sharia, a group affiliated with Al-Qaeda, on Sunday released 73 soldiers from Ja’ar in Abyan that have been held captive for two months.
The armed group who took control of much of Abyan governorate in May 2011, released the prisoners after mediation by Islamic clerics, prisoners’ families, youth activists and human rights activists from Sana’a, Hadramout, Aden and Abyan, said Sheikh Abulwahab Al-Humaiqani, a representative of the Al-Karama Human Rights Organization told the Yemen Times on Sunday.
The mediation team, who traveled from Sana’a on Thursday April 26, arrived in Ja’ar on Saturday morning April 28 and got a word from leaders of the group that the prisoners were to be freed the following day, Mohamed Al-Ahmadi, a member of the meditation team told the Yemen Times.
The local news website, Al-Masdronline reported on Saturday that Ansar Al-Sharia had decided to release the army prisoners after “instructions were given by the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Naser Al-Wahishi to do so in respect for the mediation team.”
Al-Ahmadi said that Ansar Al-Sharia organized a festival and military parade for the release of the prisoners in Ja’ar where the leader of the organization in Abyan, Jalal Balaidi attended the ceremony and gave a speech to the attendees and the captured soldiers.
“Your [prisoners’] government has arrested our fellows [Al-Qaeda detainees in Yemeni prisons] from their mosques, homes or while at work and have not released them yet,” said Balaidi in his speech to the prisoners. “But we captured you from the back of tanks and missiles-launchers.”
The group has given each of the 73 captured soldiers YR 10,000 ($50) for transportation money, according to Al-Ahmadi.
The main road connecting Zinjibar to Aden has been blocked by the army since June 2011 and people in the area live under a blockade, according to Al-Ahmadi.
Ansar Al-Sharia captured the 73 soldiers in early March during fierce battles with the army in Dofas, west of Zinjibar, that caused the death of 150 army troops.
Two soldiers of the CTU killed in Zinjibar
Ibrahim Mohamed Mufarih and Jamal Al-Jameema of the Counter-Terrorism Unit (CTU) in Zinjibar of Abyan were killed on Friday April 27 in an armed ambush set up by Ansar Al-Sharia, a source from the CTU told the Yemen Times on Sunday.
Jameel Al-Dufairi and Mohamed Ateeq also from the CTU were injured in the same ambush, the source added.
The CTU had not been involved in the fight against Ansar Al-Sharia in Abyan until mid-April when President Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi requested that forces of the CTU in Sana’a to be sent to Abyan to support the army in fighting against the group.
A security source in Zinjibar said the army along with forces from the CTU are advancing against Ansar Al-Sharia.
“Some units of the army are in Zinjibar and the Criminal Investigation Office and the Post Office have been freed from the armed militants,” the security source said.
Military commander in Lawdar removed
Brigadier General Abdulqawi Al-Masmari, commander of the 111th Brigade in Lawdar, north Zinjibar has been removed from his post on Thursday April 26 after disputes between Al-Masmari and the People’s Defense Fighters in Abyan.
Faraj Hussein Ghaleb has been designated as the new leader for the brigade. Local sources said that the People’s Defense Fighters who prevented Ansar Al-Sharia from occupying Lawdar accused Al-Masmari of aiding the armed group against the local fighters.