MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images
A police trooper inspects a vehicle Wednesday at the entrance of the Sanaa International Airport. The U.S. has evacuated its staff from the city’s embassy.
An al Qaeda plot to seize control of two major cities in Yemen and bomb oil and gas pipelines was thwarted Wednesday by officials in the Arab nation.
The foiled attack targeted the cities of Mukalla and Bawzeer in southern Yemen and would have been followed by attacks on the pipelines by terrorists dressed as military personnel, spokesman Rageh Badi told The Associated Press.
The terror strike was reportedly meant as payback for the killing of senior al Qaeda official Said al-Shihri in a November drone attack.
The pipeline explosions were intended to “create panic among Yemeni army and Yemeni security forces,” Badi said.
There was no word on whether Yemeni officials had arrested any of the plotters involved in the scheme.
The plot was exposed as tensions in Yemen continued to ratchet up.
A travel warning was issued Wednesday following due to the terrorist attack, which was thwarted Thursday.
The United States, which previously evacuated its staff from the embassy in the capital city of Sanaa, killed seven suspected al Qaeda militants on Wednesday in southern Yemen.
It was the fifth drone strike in Yemen in the last two weeks. The latest attack set two vehicles on fire in the Shabwa province.
Yemen is home to the al Qaeda offshoot AQAP — al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The group is considered one of the terrorist organization’s most active operations.
The White House — in addition to the Sanaa evacuation – has temporarily closed 18 diplomatic posts in the Middle East and Africa over concerns of an al Qaeda attack.
The closures began after intelligence agents intercepted a covert missive between al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri and AQAP head Nasser al-Wahishi.
The messages mentioned a major terror attack, according to the AP.
With wire services