Al-Qaeda seize southern Yemen town
Al-Qaeda militants took control of the southern coastal town of Ahwar inYemen on Saturday, the Arabic website of Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
According to local residents in Ahwar, al-Qaeda militants were deployed at the eastern entrances to the city and mounted the roofs tops of government buildings, where they fought with Popular Resistance Units loyal to President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi.
“At dawn this morning the al-Qaeda gunmen clashed with the Popular Resistance forces, killing three of them. They attacked the sheikh in charge of the area and after he escaped set up street checkpoints and planted their black flag on government buildings,” one resident said.
The coastal city and surrounding district, in Abyan province, is home to over 30,000 people and is an important geographic link between the major port city of Mukalla to the east and the smaller town of Zinjibar, both of which Al Qaeda seized months ago.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has recently been making advances in Yemen as the Saudi-led coalition forces, which backs the internationally recognized government, fight Houthi militias.
The government, based in Yemen’s second largest city of Aden in the southwest, has also been fighting the advance of the militants, even in areas close to the presidential palace.
Residents in Aden’s Mansoura neighborhood said heavy explosions reverberated on Friday night as gunmen launched shoulder-fired rockets in a failed attempt to take over a container port.
But AQAP has also suffered setbacks, losing its leader and several top officials to U.S. drone strikes.