Al Qaeda claims to capture two southern districts of Yemen

ADEN: Al Qaeda fighters seized control of two key districts in Yemen’s Abyan province on Wednesday, killing at least seven and seizing weapons. The militants launched their attack in the early hours on Ja’ar and Zinjibar districts from their nearby strongholds in Abyan. A local source said the extremists had taken advantage of a security vacuum in the area after local resistance fighters had left to battle against Houthi rebels occupying large parts of the country. Ja’ar and Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, are about 50 kilometres east of Aden. The districts had previously fallen into Al Qaeda’s hands in 2011, before an offensive by the Yemeni army allied with local resistance fighters, known as Popular Committees, liberated the areas just over a year later. The local source and member of these committees, said he feared the Al Qaeda fighters were planning to take over more areas in Abyan and that the local population would be unable to resist as many of the Popular Committees’ fighters had left to fight in Lahj and Aden against the Iran-backed Houthis. “By 5am the fighters of AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) stormed the house of the deputy of the Popular Committees in Abyan, Ali Al Said, and killed him with some of his guards, and then they took over a weapons depot in Ja’ar and set up their checkpoints in the districts,” the source said. He added that military reinforcements from the internationally recognised government based in Aden would be needed to drive AQAP from the districts.(