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Spotlight: Armed attacks spike in Yemen's Aden amid fears of terror presence
From:Xinhua  |  2018-07-26 01:37

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by Murad Abdu

ADEN, Yemen, July 25 (Xinhua) -- Drive-by shooting attacks and roadside bomb blasts are escalating in the Yemen's government-controlled province of Aden, triggering fears that terror groups might maintain presence in the southern city.

Government officials including high-ranking security commanders and intelligence officers have been the prime target of armed attacks launched by unknown gunmen in recent days.

The wave of assassinations resumed after a brief noticeable improvement in the security situation in Aden, where various military factions loyal to regional countries have different agenda.

On Monday, a motorcycle-riding suicide bomber blew himself up and targeted a vehicle carrying a high-ranking military commander near a police checkpoint in Enma area of Aden.

The suicide blast aimed to assassinate the Fourth Security Battalion commander named as Abu Muhtam who was inside his armored vehicle at the time of the incident, but he escaped unharmed, local sources told Xinhua.

The targeted commander received military support from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) operating as part of the Saudi-led Arab coalition and participated actively in fighting terror groups in Aden and other neighboring provinces.

An official of Aden's Police Command told Xinhua that local authorities backed by UAE adopted a package of security measures to counter terrorist threats against government institutions in Aden.

"The security vigilance was raised in Aden and the situation is under control. Some terrorists want to maintain presence by carrying attacks in Aden but that will be an impossible thing," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Security forces backed by armored vehicles were deployed in Aden's entry points to thwart infiltration of potential terror elements from the neighboring provinces into the city, according to the local source.

However, two coordinated armed attacks rocked different locations in Aden later in the day despite the heavy security deployment in the city's key checkpoints.

A bomb attached to a vehicle of government official exploded and injured three of his bodyguards in Aden's neighborhood of Sheikh Othman.

Elsewhere in Aden, unknown gunmen tried to target a military convoy by remotely detonating a roadside bomb in Mansourah district, causing a huge explosion with no casualties.

The chief of Basateen Police Station also survived a third attack when gunmen opened gunshots toward his vehicle in Aden.

The southern port city of Aden is sinking in chaos, and daily armed attacks are occurring while leaders of local security forces are divided and keep exchanging accusations of failure, according to local political activists.

Leaders of the pro-secesssion Southern Transitional Council (STC) accused local Yemeni parties loyal to Qatar of being behind the latest wave of armed attacks aimed at destabilizing the city that is largely controlled by armed forces loyal to the UAE.

A member of the STC told Xinhua by phone saying that "the prominent allies of Qatar including the Islamic Islah party are carrying out these armed attacks in a desperate way to fight the UAE presence in Aden and make it unstable."

The STC member said on condition of anonymity that "the pro-Qatar political Yemeni parties participated in financing armed groups in the southern provinces. The STC leadership banned the Islah activities and blacklisted it."

"Some leaders are still receiving financial support from Qatar to recruit terrorists for launching sabotage acts and abort the efforts exerted by our forces in fighting terrorism," the STC member said.

On the other hand, members of the Muslims Brotherhood Islah party accused military leaders backed by the UAE of failure in managing the situation in Aden despite the large logistic support provided from the Saudi-led coalition.

"The UAE-backed military leaders are ruling Aden and have the upper hand there but they are using Qatar intervention as a pretext to hide their failure in management and fighting terrorism," said one of the Islah members in Aden named as Farooq Ali.

In January, forces loyal to the STC engaged in fierce armed confrontations with the government Presidential Protection Forces over the control of Aden.

During January's fighting, the forces loyal to the STC took control of the port city of Aden and other government headquarters after two days of clashes that left more than 38 people killed and scores others injured.

There have been rising tensions between southern separatist leaders and ministers of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government over control of the southern half of the country after expelling the Iranian-backed Houthis.

Saudi Arabia and UAE conducted mediating efforts and succeeded in preventing the military escalation at that time but Yemeni observers expect new street fightings as the situation is getting tense between the two rivals every day.

The southern port city of Aden is considered as Yemen's temporary capital and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government based itself there since 2015.

Yemen's government, allied with the Saudi-led Arab military coalition, has for more than three years been battling Houthi rebels over control of the country.

The anti-Houthi coalition began a military air campaign in March 2015 to roll back Houthi gains and reinstate exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his government to the power.

The coalition also imposed air and sea blockade to prevent weapons from reaching Houthis, who had invaded the capital Sanaa militarily and seized most of the northern Yemeni provinces.

UN statistics show more than 10,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed since the coalition intervened in the Yemeni civil war that also displaced around 3 million.