Yemeni Interior Ministry has recruited 500 high-school graduates from southern provinces to prepare them to secure an Arab regional football championship scheduled to be hosted by Yemen at the end of this year, a senior official of the ministry said Wednesday.
Despite political and security instability in southern provinces where armed separatist rebels and resurgent al-Qaida militants are highly active, Yemen has been recently confirmed to be the host of the 20th Gulf Cup football championship in November, according to state media.
The security official told Xinhua that the 500 new soldiers were recruited from the southern troubled provinces of Abyan and Aden, where the championship is due to take place.
"The most thing that concerns us and our neighboring Gulf countries are al-Qaida," he told Xinhua on condition of anonymity, adding "we are not fearing any possible riots from the southern separatists, but a small attack by al-Qaida will be a disaster on the tournament."
"A small strike by al-Qaida may lead the Arab football teams withdrawing from Yemen, and this would be a great loss as millions of U.S. dollars have been spent on building a number of stadiums in Abyan and Aden to host the Gulf Cup," he said.
"The 500 news soldiers are being well prepared and are now undergoing a high-level security and anti-terrorism training program," the official added.
The recent al-Qaida attacks in the south may have triggered fears on the Yemen's security environment and its capability to secure the safety of the participants in the champions.
Gulf soccer official last month suggested Bahrain to be the alternative host in case Yemen failed to be so.
As scheduled, the 20th Gulf Cup football championship will be held from November 22 to December 4 this year in the two Yemeni southern provinces, Aden and Abyan.
The participating nations of the championship includes six Arab Gulf states as well as Iraq and the host Yemen.