Aden police crackdown on gun ownership to stop terrorists

The traffic police also began stopping unregistered vehicles

Fighters with the UAE-trained Security Belt Forces loyal to the pro-independence Southern Transitional Council (STC) search the trunk of a car at their checkpoint near the south-central coastal city of Zinjibar in south-central Yemen, in the Abyan Governorate, on August 21, 2019. 
 Yemeni separatists drove government troops out of two military camps in deadly clashes yesterday, reinforcing their presence in the south after they seized the de facto capital Aden. / AFP / Nabil HASAN

Aden police and local militias began a major campaign to crack down on illegal gun ownership in a bid to prevent terrorist infiltration.

Brig Shallal Ali Shaya, the director of Aden Security forces, accompanied with Col Jamal Dayan, the head of the traffic police, launched the campaign in the Al Mansoura and Al Sheikh Othman districts of the southern port city.

"The security campaign aims to put an end for the phenomenon of bearing arms as part of serious steps towards strengthening the security in Aden, Capt Abdulrahman Al Nakeeb, the spokesman of Aden police, told The National. "To achieve this, our forces are going to deal strictly with anybody who bears any kind of illegal arms."

It is now illegal to carry guns in Aden, Al Nakeeb added. “It is time to put an end for such a bad phenomenon because it helped the terror cells to move with ease inside the city”.

Even before the war, it was not uncommon for men to openly carry assault rifles or handguns in the street.

The move comes days after members of the Security Belt Forces, a militia armed and trained by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition, began shutting down gun shops in the city.

In conjunction with the crackdown on gun ownership, Aden traffic police have begun stopping all unregistered vehicles and those without licence plates in the city.

The owners are then sent to the office of the traffic police in Aden to fill out the registration forms for their vehicle.

"The campaign just started and we gave the owners of the unregistered cars or the cars without license plates a week to go to our office to register their cars," Col Jamal Dayan told The National. 

“At the beginning of this coming September, we will detain any unregistered car or any car without license plates,” Col Dayan added.

He said that the number of unregistered cars and those without license plates has increased dramatically in the city over the last five years as a result of the chaos caused by the war.

“It is time to stop this havoc,” the colonel said.

Residents of the city welcomed the move that many saw as needed to boost security. While there have been attacks by terror groups in recent months, the city has largely been insulated from the worst of the violence elsewhere in the country.

“We have suffered enough from the unlawfully armed groups that came to our city during the war with the Houthis, they move freely with their arms,” said Amal Ahmad, a student in Aden. “I started to hate going to school because of the clashes that broke out between some elements in places near to our school.”

The operations come just over a week after Security Belt Forces, who are allied to the Southern Transitional Council, clashed with fighters allied to the government of Yemen. The STC demanded an equal say in future peace talks as well as the removal of northerners and Islamist Muslim Brotherhood members from the government.

The STC blamed Islamist infiltrators of allowing a recent attack in Aden that killed dozens at a military parade, including a senior STC military official.