Aden security forces on Tuesday caught a cell of ISIL-affiliated militants accused of carrying out attacks against a number of high-ranking members of the police and military, as well as religious leaders, a security source told The National.
The support battalions – a division of the southern port city's security forces – launched an operation in the morning targeting a number of buildings where members of the cell were hiding out in the areas of Al Memdar, Al Techanya and Alluhoom, the source said.
Major General Mouneer Al Yafeaee, the commander of the support battalions, declared that the security operation would not be suspended until the city had been cleared of ISIL and its supporters.
The extremist group – along with others, including Al Qaeda – has taken advantage of security vacuums created by Yemen's ongoing war to expand its reach in the south of the country.
Fourteen people were killed in Aden on February 24 when two car suicide bombers struck the entrance of a military base and a checkpoint near the headquarters of the secessionist Southern Transitional Council. ISIL claimed that attack.
Tuesday's operation came after convicted militants confessed during interrogation sessions that they were members of the cell and revealed the hiding places of the other members, the security source said.
The cell has targeted more than 15 clerics and imams in the past two years, as well as a number of senior members of the Aden security forces – most recently a high-ranking police officer named Abdulkareem Abdullah, who was assassinated by two gunmen wearing masks on Monday.
The director of the city's security forces, Brigadier Shallal Ali Shaya, said in a speech on Monday that groups seeking to bring chaos to Aden are providing logistical and support to local ISIL cells.