Al-Qaida reportedly seizes control of key areas in and around Yemen's port city of Aden
SANAA, Yemen — Al-Qaida terrorists seized control of key areas in and around Yemen's port city of Aden, high-ranking security officials said Saturday, a major gain for the group, which has been making inroads amid the chaos of the country's civil war. The move, part of a weekslong expansion in Aden at the end of major fighting there between Shiite rebels known as Houthis and pro-government forces backed by Saudi Arabia, shows how the organization holds formidable clout despite its relatively low-profile role in the country's raging civil war.
Fighters took Tawahi district, home to a presidential palace and Aden's main port, and were patrolling the streets, some carrying black banners, the officials said. The militants also took parts of Crater, Aden's commercial center, and parts of the town of Dar Saad, just north of Aden, including an army base that their fighters turned into a training camp, they added.
Security officials near the seized base, in Dar Saad's al-Lohoum district, said it is training about 200 terrorists.
The officials, who hail from the military, security forces and police, all spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren't authorized to speak to journalists.
Yemen's conflict pits the Iran-allied Houthi rebels and troops loyal to the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, against an array of forces including southern separatists, local and tribal militias, Sunni Islamic militants as well as troops loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
Al-Qaida appears to have taken advantage of a security vacuum in Aden to ramp up its presence.