Gun battle in Abyan

Security forces in southern Yemen raided a house in Zinjibar (Abyan province) early on Monday and a gun battle ensued. Several people were killed, including Ali Saleh al-Yafei, his wife and at least two children, plus two or more soldiers. Reports differ on the number of casualties.

According to the defence ministry, al-Yafei was wanted for links with al-Qaeda. Whether he was actually connected with al-Qaeda remains to be seen; similar government claims in relation to other raids have been disputed in the past.

The ruling party’s website also says al-Yafei “was in contact with the secessionist Tariq al-Fadhli and his follower elements and was supplying them with weapons”. The Yemen Observerdescribes him as “a weapon trader”. The AFP report calls him “a separatist leader accused of al-Qaeda links”. Take your pick.

Today, in an incident which may or may not be connected, security forces surrounded Fadhli’s home in Abyan and his guards opened fire on them, according to The security forces eventually withdrew.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 2 March 2010.