Local official says military unit guarding airport withdrew without resisting the militants.
Al Qaeda militants on Thursday seized a provincial airport in southeast Yemen while tribal forces took over an oil terminal, as the war-wracked country slides further into turmoil.
“The military unit in charge of security at the facility withdrew without resisting” Al Qaeda fighters, said an official at the airport in Mukalla, capital of Hadramawt province.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the jihadist network’s powerful Yemeni branch, earlier this month took advantage of the growing chaos to overrun Mukalla. Military sources said AQAP now controls the whole of the city of more than 200,000 inhabitants, except for a camp of soldiers loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who has fled to Saudi Arabia.
Elsewhere in Hadramawt province, tribal forces on Thursday took control of a major oil terminal after soldiers protecting the site withdrew, a military source said. The terminal, in the city of Al-Shihr, “fell under the complete control of tribal fighters after the military unit guarding it withdrew in the afternoon without resistance,” the source told AFP.
Various armed groups have taken over parts of the deeply tribal country, where Iran-backed rebels are battling pro-Hadi forces. In southwest Yemen, rebel soldiers loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh traded tank and artillery fire Thursday with a pro-Hadi brigade in the city of Taez, military sources and witnesses said.