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How al Qaeda Rules in Yemen

Letter from Mukalla

Firefighters extinguish a fire at a food storage warehouse hit by a Saudi-led air strike in Yemen's capital Sanaa October 25, 2015. Khaled Abdullah / Retuers

Around midnight on April 2, bombs began falling on the coastal city of Mukalla, the capital of Yemen’s largest province, Hadramawt. A female Yemeni journalist who asked not to be identified told me that when she heard the explosions, she phoned the city’s top security officials and army commanders to ask what had happened but that they had “no clue.”

Soon after, it became clear that the city was under siege by al Qaeda. Around 200 of the militants were from Mukalla and another 200 drove in from other parts of Yemen in their pickup trucks.

According to the journalist and Abu Younis, the media liaison for al Qaeda, the group surrounded the buildings of the national security, police stations, Republican Palace, and army camps. They blew up the cars of soldiers sent by central Yemeni security forces and prevented armored vehicles from entering the city.

After three days of fighting

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