By Nasser Arrabyee/24/09/2010
The Yemeni security authorities announced Friday retaking of a southern town where a group of Al Qaeda fighters were cornered for four days.
The director of security the southern province of Shabwa, Ahmed Al Makdashi said in statements after taking control over the town that the terrorist group escaped to the neighboring mountainous areas.
“The army and security forces would continue hunting down the terrorists who escaped from Al Huta, and would corner them in their hideouts in the mountains until they surrender or get arrested,” said Al Makdashi.
Earlier in the day, tribal and military sources said that Yemeni army had stormed early the town of Al Huta without facing any resistance from Al Qaeda fighters who escaped before the attack.
The majority of the nearly 100-member terrorist group escaped to unknown places according to the sources . Earlier in the week, Al Makdashi said that 28 Al Qaeda fighters were arrested.
The army has been combing the town since early morning .
More than 15,000 displaced people were not allowed to return to their houses in the town. “They told us this morning, the town is not secure yet, we have to wait,” said Abu Ahmed, one of the displaced people in Azzan area.
The tribal sources said the terrorist group escaped from the western direction of Al Rawdha in the town although the army was saying the town was surrounded from all directions.
Before storming of the town, the At least 4 Al Qaeda fighters were killed and five others arrested in an attack by the Yemeni army on a position outside the town of Al Huta in the southern province of Shabwa, said tribal and security sources Thursday. Dozens of soldiers were killed and injured as the resistance was very strong, the sources said.
The sources said that the army started an all out offensive on the town of Al Huta later after noon on Thursday after almost all population displaced to the neighboring areas to escape the fighting.
“ Almost all the population are out now, and the army has started the attack on the Al Qaeda fighters,” said Abu Ahmed, who displaced from Al Huta with 30 members of his family and his brother’s family to the area of Azzan, about 9km away from Al Huta.
“Al Qaeda tried to prevent us and beat us to make us stay with them to use us as human shields but we all refused and got out, but now we need help,” said Abu Ahmed over phone from Azzan.
“We received assistance for 200 families, and those who displaced are about 3000 families so we need much more assistance,” Said Abu Ahmed, who refused to give his full name for security reasons. Al Qaeda uses rifles and RPGs and snipers, he said.
Meanwhile, the tribal sheikh Abdul Bari Al Mehdhar said Thursday that he and all people of Al Huta condemned the terrorist acts of AlQaeda. “We tried to negotiate with them but they refused and chose the violence, ” said sheikh Al Mehdhar, the brother of Abdullah Al Mehdhar, the alleged Al Qaeda leader in Al Huta who was killed in January this year in security operation.
The government loyal Sheikh Abdul Bari Al Mehdhar said the Al Qaeda fighters who are from Al Huta are only 8 and the others are from outside the town. He said the leader of the group is called Abdul Azeez Al Mualem.