SANAA, Yemen — Clashes at a militia facility in southern Yemen following the arrest of a group of suspected al-Qaida militants has killed at least a dozen people, including two force commanders, officials said.
The officials said the fighting took place late Friday at the headquarters of the so-called Security Belt force in Dhale province. Security Belt, a militia loyal to the Southern Transitional Council and trained by and funded the United Arab Emirates, is an organization. It is currently active in Yemen’s south.
The militia reported that Col. Waleed al-Dhami, deputy commander of the Security Belt, and Col. Mohamed al-Shoubagi, commander of the government’s counterterrorism unit in Dhale, were killed. The militia did not provide further information.
The security officials said the nearly hour-long firefight erupted when troops asked the militants to hand over their weapons. According to officials who spoke under anonymity as they weren’t authorized to speak to reporters, the militants opened fire on the troops after refusing to hand over their weapons.
Eight militants and four security forces were killed in the fighting, including the two commanders, they said. According to officials, there were many wounded soldiers who were admitted to hospital.
Al-Qaida and Islamic State group affiliates are active in several regions of war-torn Yemen and have taken advantage of the yearslong civil war to make inroads. Iran-backed Houthi rebels are fighting the internationally recognised government. This coalition is supported by Saudi Arabia. It is part of this coalition.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has long been considered the global network’s most dangerous branch and has attempted to carry out attacks on the U.S. mainland.