Yemen forces seize large weapons cache in Aden

Raid in district known for presence of armed men follows law and order clampdown.

A soldier guards Aden’s international airport after Yemeni security forces took over control of public facilities from resistance militias in Aden last week. Saleh Al Obeidi / AFP / January 7, 2016
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ADEN // Yemeni security forces have seized a large cache of weapons in Al Tawahi district of Aden, an area where illegal armed groups have established a strong presence.

The weapons included bombs and other explosive devices, rockets, landmines and ammunition, a source at the Aden police headquarters told The National.

The weapons were seized in a raid by led by the police on disused warehouses of Al Tawahi port on Sunday, following a tip-off by residents of the area.

“These weapons belong to illegal groups aiming to create chaos in the province, but we are willing to clear Aden of these groups,” the police source said. “The law will be implemented in the city against these groups.”

The warehouses were deserted at the time of the raid and no arrests were made.

Al Tawahi district became notorious as a stronghold of unidentified armed men after Aden was liberated from Houthi rebels in July by pro-government resistance fighters and troops from a Saudi-led coalition seeking to restore Yemen’s internationally recognised government led by president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.

Some residents accused these men of being members of the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap), the Yemeni branch of the terror group. Aqap and the extremist group ISIL have claimed a series of attacks in Aden since last October. ISIL on Monday claimed the assassination of Ali Saleh Al Nahkebi, director of political security in Aden’s Khour Maksar district, a day earlier.

In new steps to impose law and order, Aden’s authorities last week imposed a night curfew to improve security and government forces started began taking over control of public institutions held by fighters of the Southern Resistance.

Political analyst Fadhl Al Rabei, head of the Madar Strategic Studies Centre in Aden, said the weapons seizure on Sunday was a first step against terrorism in Aden.

“Most of Al Tawahi’s residents know that Aqap fighters and armed men who are loyalists to the ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh live in Al Tawahi, but the security forces did not attack them before because they were not strong like they are now,” he said.

He said Aden’s new police chief, Shalal Shaei, as a former leader of the Southern Resistance, had the support of most Aden residents and that was why he ordered the raid in Al Tawahi.