Al-Qaida plots against key cities foiled

SANAA, Yemen — Authorities foiled plots by al-Qaida to take over key cities in southern Yemen and attack strategic ports and gas facilities, a government spokesman said Wednesday amid a heightened alert that has seen Western embassies evacuated and a new suspected U.S. drone strike that killed seven alleged militants from the terrorist group.

SANAA, Yemen — Authorities foiled plots by al-Qaida to take over key cities in southern Yemen and attack strategic ports and gas facilities, a government spokesman said Wednesday amid a heightened alert that has seen Western embassies evacuated and a new suspected U.S. drone strike that killed seven alleged militants from the terrorist group.

Al-Qaida planned to target the cities of Mukalla and Bawzeer, then send militants disguised as Yemeni troops to attack two strategic oil ports in the impoverished country on the Arabian Peninsula, government spokesman Rageh Badi said.

Other al-Qaida militants would also try to sabotage pipelines to “create panic among Yemeni army and Yemeni security services,” Badi told The Associated Press, adding that authorities managed to foil the plots in the past 48 hours.

Details of the plot were first reported by the BBC.

His remarks came hours after Washington apparently stepped up its drone strikes in Yemen in the covert fight against militants from al-Qaida’s branch, which is considered the most active of the terrorist network.

Security officials and residents said early Wednesday that a suspected U.S. drone strike killed seven suspected al-Qaida militants in southern Yemen, the fifth such attack in the country in less than two weeks.

Yemen has emerged as the focus of a feared attack that has led the U.S. to shut down temporarily 19 diplomatic posts in the Middle East and Africa. American and British workers from embassies in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa also have been evacuated.

Washington has been backing a campaign by Yemen’s military to uproot al-Qaida militants and their radical allies who had taken over a string of southern cities and towns. The militants have largely been driven into the mountains and countryside, and Yemeni intelligence officials say the current threat may be retaliation for that offensive.

A U.S. intelligence official and a Mideast diplomat told the AP that the closures were triggered by the interception of a secret message between al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri and Nasser al-Wahishi, the leader of the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, about plans for a major attack.

The drone strike killed the militants in Shabwa province, setting two vehicles on fire, security officials said. All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.

Residents of the Markha region of Shabwa province said they saw several bodies in two burning cars. The residents spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation.

While the United States acknowledges its drone program in Yemen, it does not confirm individual strikes or release information on how many have been carried out.

An AP reporter in Sanaa said a drone buzzed over the capital for most of the day.

Security checkpoints have been set up across Sanaa, searching cars and individuals.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Samantha Sharpe, 25, was stabbed to death at Sunchild First Nation on Dec. 12, 2018. Chelsey Lagrelle was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for manslaughter in a Red Deer courtroom on Tuesday. Photo contributed
Central Alberta woman sentenced to 4 1/2 years for stabbing friend to death in 2018

Chelsey Lagrelle earlier pleaded guilty to stabbing Samantha Sharpe during argument

Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans need to keep making safe choices to start bending the curve back down. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, 257 additional cases province-wide

Red Deer sits at 459 active cases of the virus

Olds College logo
Olds College to host free, online agriculture celebration next month

Olds College will host a free live-streamed agriculture event next month. The… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services Logo
AHS upgrading online immunization booking tool

Alberta Health Services’ online booking tool for COVID-19 immunizations will be temporarily… Continue reading

Eric Rajah and Brian Leavitt were awarded with Meritorious Service Medals by the Governor General for co-founding the Lacombe-based charity A Better World. The agency’s goal is to reduce poverty and boost education in Africa and Afghanistan. (Contributed photo)
Co-founders of Lacombe-based charity receive one of Canada’s highest honours

Eric Rajah, Brian Leavitt of A Better World are honoured by the Governor General

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2020, file photo, FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington. Wray is set to testify for the first time since the deadly Jan. 6 deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol. (Sarah Silbiger/Pool via AP)
FBI chief warns violent ‘domestic terrorism’ growing in US

FBI chief warns violent ‘domestic terrorism’ growing in US

In this image from KYMA law enforcement work at the scene of a deadly crash involving a semitruck and an SUV in Holtville, Calif., on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (KYMA via AP)
California crash kills 13 of 25 people crammed into SUV

California crash kills 13 of 25 people crammed into SUV

FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 file photo, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny gestures as he stands behind a grass of the cage in the Babuskinsky District Court in Moscow, Russia. Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was transported to a prison 100km away from Moscow. Navalny was taken to a prison in Pokrov city after Moscow city court rejected appeal against his prison sentence on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
US sanctions Russian officials over nerve-agent attack

US sanctions Russian officials over nerve-agent attack

Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden's nominee for Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), appears beofre a Senate Committee on the Budget hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
Budget nominee Tanden withdraws nomination amid opposition

Budget nominee Tanden withdraws nomination amid opposition

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on February 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Unanimous committee report calls on Trudeau not to trigger election during pandemic

Unanimous committee report calls on Trudeau not to trigger election during pandemic

Jahmil French arrives on the red carpet at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on March 11, 2018. Canadian actor Jahmil French of "Degrassi: The Next Generation" fame has died. His agent, Gabrielle Kachman, confirmed the news to The Canadian Press through a statement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Canadian actor Jahmil French of ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’ has died, says agent

Canadian actor Jahmil French of ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’ has died, says agent

FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2005 file photo, Bunny Wailer performs at the One Love concert to celebrate Bob Marley's 60th birthday, in Kingston, Jamaica. Wailer, a reggae luminary who was the last surviving member of the legendary group The Wailers, died on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in his native Jamaica, according to his manager. He was 73. (AP Photo/Collin Reid, File)
Bunny Wailer, reggae luminary and last Wailers member, dies

Bunny Wailer, reggae luminary and last Wailers member, dies

Eddie Murphy, left, and Arsenio Hall appear in a scene from "Coming 2 America." (Quantrell D. Colbert/Paramount Pictures via AP)
33 years later, Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall return to Zamunda

33 years later, Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall return to Zamunda

Most Read