A local source said that Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen have imposed full control over the town of Mahfad in the Abyan province on Thursday night, while facing little resistance.
The source, who wished to remain anonymous in fear of reprisal, told the Arabic-media “Al-Masdar Online” that armed militants belonging to Ansar al-Sharia were deployed to the streets of the town, manning checkpoints and raising black flags.
The control of Mahfad town in north-east Abyan province comes hours after Ansar al-Sharia commander Jalal Baleedi, nom de guerre “Hamza al-Zinjibari”, was killed by US drone strike near his hometown in the Muraqasha area.
Meanwhile in Zinjibar, Ansar al-Sharia fighters have also reportedly declared full control over the provincial capital and proclaimed an Islamic emirate, expelling the remaining Hadi-backed Southern Popular Resistance (SPR) fighters from the town; this came shortly after Baleedi’s body was buried there.
Ansar al-Sharia was rebranded locally from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) where it was based mostly in the southern regions of Bayda, Hadramout, Abyan, Shabwa, and Lahj province.
The group has recently expanded its territory by taking control of Azzan in the Shabwa province on Monday without facing any resistance from the Hadi loyalists as well as Saudi-led Coalition airstrikes.