By NY Staff
A local newspaper reported on Saturday citing familiar sources that the commander of the Southern Military Region, Salem Qatan, arrested an officer and referred him to Aden security prosecution for further interrogation on charges of smuggling artillery shells to Al-Qaeda.
The state-run Al-Jamhoria newspaper said that the arrested officer stole approximately 410 shells from the headquarters to the Al-Qaeda’s base.
The officer is believed to have given the shells to Al-Qaeda, which owns heavy weapons such as tanks which they claimed from their battles with the Yemeni army in the southern trouble-torn province of Abyan.
Last month, Al-Qaeda militants launched a surprise attack on the 31th Brigade, in command of the southern region, killing more than 150 soldiers, capturing 72 others, and seized many heavy weapons including rocket launchers and tanks.
The personnel of the 31th Brigade accused their former commander, Mahdi Maquala, one of the biggest supporters of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh of supplying al-Qaeda with heavy weapons a day before he handed over command to his successor Qatan. The sources told Al-Jamhori that the 31st Brigade is still looking for this stolen military equipment.
The newspaper quoted a security official as saying that the police managed to arrest two suspected al-Qaeda spies who dropped out of the military. The soldiers were working in the Missile Department. During the interrogation, the soldiers confessed that they were working as spies for al-Qaeda.