Sultan Fadl, the director general of Damt administrative district in Yemen’s southern province of al Dalea, announced this morning that two al Qaeda operatives were killed during a raid carried out by a Yemeni special operations unit. The al Qaeda fighters had apparently entrenched themselves in an apartment in the city of Damt that they rented about a week ago for the purpose of planning a terrorist attack in the country. Fadl said Yemeni authorities who were monitoring the apartment had reached a decision to foil the terrorist plot.
At dawn this morning, Yemeni forces stormed the apartment and clashes broke out between the al Qaeda militants in the apartment and the advancing Yemeni military unit. Two al Qaeda fighters and two Yemeni soldiers, identified as Hani Hamdan and Salah Ali al Faqih, were killed during these clashes. After taking control of the apartment, the Yemeni military confiscated communication devices, documents of interest, and a car filled with the operatives’ weapons.
In recent months, al Dalea province has seen an uptick in violent clashes between Yemeni security forces and a southern secessionist movement, al Hirak al Janoubi, that is calling for the restoration of the former socialist state of South Yemen, which merged with the north in 1990. In December, a shell fired by the Yemeni military hit a funeral procession attended by separatists in al Dalea, killing 15 people, including children, and exacerbating the tense situation in the restive province.