Al Mukalla: Nine UAE-backed Yemeni soldiers were killed and four wounded when Al Qaida militants assaulted a checkpoint in a remote area on Wednesday, west of the city of Al Mukalla, the capital of Hadramout province.
The Al Mukalla-based 2nd Military Region said in a statement that Al Qaida militants driving motorbikes attacked a checkpoint manned by Hadrami Elite Forces in Al Aqeq region, Wadi Hajjar district.
The soldiers returned fire, killing five and injuring several others.
The militants fled the area before the arrival of reinforcements from a nearby military camp.
The governor of Hadramout, Major General Faraj Salmeen Al Bahsani, issued a strongly worded statement, vowing to retaliate against Al Qaida’s deadly attack.
“This is a desperate attempt by an organisation for relevance. The blood of our martyrs is not cheap, and we will aggressively respond,” the governor said.
Hadramout Elite Forces—military units that were armed and trained by the UAE military officers in Yemen—were deployed in Hadramout’s rural areas after restoring peace to former Al Qaida strongholds such as Al Mukalla, Sheher, Ghayl Bawazer.
Local military officers tell Gulf News that Al Qaida militants who suffered heavy loses in neighbouring Shabwa province are trying to regroup in the rugged hilly areas of Hadramout.
Hundreds of soldiers are currently stationed in Hajjar and Dawan districts after Al Qaida militants began targeting local security personnel there.
Known as Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaida’s branch in war-ravaged Yemen has suffered major setbacks in the south where thousands of military and security units, built by the UAE, expelled them from their hideouts in Hadramout, Shabwa, Lahj and Abyan.
The aggressive offensive, backed by Emirati airpower, has left Al Qaida in complete disarray and forced them to flee to remote moutainous areas.
Meanwhile, in the northern province of Jawf, local military commanders said on Thursday that government forces pushed deeper into Al Houthi-controlled areas in Baret Al Anan district, three days after seizing control of a military camp in the district. Abdullah Al Ashraf, a spokesperson for the army’s 6th Military Region, told Gulf News that government forces expelled Al Houthi militants from a mountain near Tayba Al Asem military camp that fell to the government forces.
Loyalists seized arms and ammunition left behind after the fighting.
Fighter jets from the Saudi-led coalition paved the way for government forces to advance as they struck Al Houthis’ locations and military reinforcements.