For the last week, soldiers and police have been searching for many al Qaeda known to be living in and around the southern town of Loudar. At least 18 al Qaeda operatives were killed, but many more escaped. The police say they are in pursuit. Loudar is in Abyan province, 550 kilometers southeast of the capital, surrounded by mountains and unruly tribes. While the fleeing al Qaeda have some other hideouts, most are now out there, in unfamiliar surroundings, and easier to spot. Many of these al Qaeda either desert the organization, or go back to their families in Yemen, if they can, and try to avoid the police. The foreign al Qaeda are more visible, and vulnerable. Total deaths in the battle for Loudar are 33 so far (including eleven soldiers or police and three civilians). Large quantities of weapons were captured, along with documents and other equipment. The police urged people to flee Loudar before the raids began, and many al Qaeda were able to get out by pretending to be a refugee.
The government believes that it has done a lot of damage to al Qaeda. The terrorist organization has lost hundreds of members to combat deaths, arrests and desertions. Yemen believes this has crippled local Islamic terrorist operations. The U.S. and Yemen disagree on this point, with the Americans pointing out that the key al Qaeda figures, like radical cleric Anwar al Awlaki are still at large and operating via the Internet. But the Yemenis are more concerned about large numbers (a thousand or more) pro-al Qaeda gunmen threatening the government and taking control of towns or rural areas.
August 26, 2010: The government has signed a new peace deal with northern Shia rebels, agreeing to implement previous agreements. This is the seventh time in the last six years that the government has made peace with the northern rebels, so you can imagine what happens next.
August 25, 2010: In southern Abyan province, al Qaeda gunmen attacked a police patrol in a market place, killing three and wounding two. Other police arrived and pursued the gunmen.
August 23, 2010: In the al Qaeda controlled city of Louder, security forces killed the al Qaeda second-in-command there. Most of the Yemeni al Qaeda members fled the city, or tried to, while most of the foreign al Qaeda, stayed and fought. There were believed to be several hundred al Qaeda in the town, although exactly who was "al Qaeda" was hard to determine. The organization is very loose when it comes to personnel records. But there appeared to be dozens of cells, all united by ideology, and some irregular cash payments. The cells (of fewer than a dozen men each) also had some local sympathizers and wannabes. These guys (in many cases teenagers) could quickly revert to non-terrorist status.
In the north, Shia rebels and pro-government tribesmen fought, leaving nine dead (five of them rebels.)
August 22, 2010: The police gave al Qaeda members in Loudar 24 hours to surrender, before troops and police began attacking parts of the city that al Qaeda was known to live and work in. Troops were also deploying in other parts of Abyan province, to help hunt down al Qaeda that are expected to flee Loudar.
August 21, 2010: Police detected a plot to assassinate a colonel in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and arrested two men attempting to plant a bomb in the CID commanders car. Elsewhere in Yemen, al Qaeda member Ali Hussain Al Tais surrendered and urged other Islamic terrorists to do likewise. Tais had been jailed in Guantanamo, but was freed, and rejoined al Qaeda in Yemen. He has been pursued by police ever since. About 40 kilometers north of the capital, troops raided a known al Qaeda hideout and arrested an al Qaeda member wanted for the last four years (since he escaped from prison.)
August 20, 2010: In the southern town of Loudar, al Qaeda ambushed an police vehicle patrol. The armored vehicle was destroyed and the eleven troops in it killed. This triggered an effort to clear al Qaeda out of Ludar (a town of 100,000) once and for all.