SANAA, Yemen: The Yemeni president has vowed to clear Al-Qaeda from all its remaining bastions, saying that an offensive launched by the army in the south last month would be extended nationwide.
“The battle against the terrorist organization is open-ended,” President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi told security chiefs late Thursday.
“The armed forces and the security services should prepare operations to clear these terrorists from Abyan, Shabwa, Baida, Marib and everywhere they have set foot,” he said in comments carried by the official Saba news agency.
The southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa and the neighboring central province of Baida have been the focus of the offensive which the army launched on April 29.
But Al-Qaeda is also firmly implanted in Marib province east of Sanaa and in Hadramawt further east.
Hadi ordered that “all possible means” be used against the jihadists, warning that their “aggression has reached the capital and has begun to disturb its daily life.”
Despite a massive security alert in Sanaa imposed for fear of Al-Qaeda reprisals, militants twice struck checkpoints close to the presidential palace last week.
The jihadists’ Yemen franchise, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, took advantage of a 2011 uprising that forced veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh from power to seize large swathes of southern and eastern Yemen.
The army recaptured several major towns in 2012 but has struggled to reassert control in rural areas despite recruiting militia allies among the local tribes.