On Feb. 16, Yemeni security services foiled an attempted attack on an oil refinery in the southern port city of Aden and arrested 27 suspected al Qaeda operatives from Abyan province involved in the plot.
The website of the Yemeni Ministry of Defense reported that authorities arrested six armed operatives on their way to carry out the attack in Aden. The operatives were apprehended after passing through a security checkpoint in the vicinity of Bureiqa. Yemeni sources claimed that the suspects had “modern and sophisticated” weapons in their possession.
The initial arrest led the authorities to 21 other suspected al Qaeda operatives, and Yemeni officials confirmed that among those arrested were operatives in senior positions. Aden police deputy commissioner Najeeb al-Mughalas emphasized that the thwarted operation “was in the preparation phase.”
The foiled attack in Aden comes on the heels of a jailbreak at Sana’a prison on Feb. 13 carried out by AQAP in which at least 19 al Qaeda members were freed [see LWJ report, AQAP storms prison in Yemen’s capital, frees al Qaeda operatives]. And on Dec. 31, security forces repelled a complex AQAP assault involving a suicide car bomb at a security headquarters in Aden [see LWJ report, AQAP suicide assault team targets security HQ in Aden].
Attacks on oil installations in Yemen by extremist groups are relatively common. The Yemeni Minister of Oil and Minerals, Ahmed Abdullah Dares, told Arabic news outlets that in the two years between March 2011 and March 2013, $4.75 billion in losses were caused by such attacks.