DUBAI (Reuters) - Yemeni security forces seized six suspected Islamist militants on Monday in a flashpoint town where a suicide bomber killed 45 people last week, a security source said.
The suspected members of the Ansar al-Sharia group, were taken from a building in the southern town of Jaar in possession of explosives and other equipment used for suicide bombs, the source said.
A suicide bomber struck at a wake in Jaar on Saturday night, killing at least 45 people and wounding dozens in an attack that appeared to target the commander of the Popular Committees, a group of tribal fighters that fought alongside the Yemeni army during an offensive against Ansar al-Sharia.
Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) seized several towns in the Abyan region, including Jaar, last year, establishing a foothold while then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh was grappling with mass protests that eventually toppled him.
The United States, which sees Yemen as a front line in its war on al Qaeda and its affiliates, supported a military campaign that drove the Islamists from their strongholds in June, but residents and analysts say the militants are simply lying low and waiting for a chance to regroup.
Yemen’s Aden refinery resumed production this week after halting operations for nine months because of attacks on the main oil pipeline, a refinery official told Reuters earlier.
The closure of the refinery, which has a capacity of 150,0000 barrels per day, had left Yemen dependent on imports and fuel donations from Saudi Arabia.
Yemen’s oil and gas pipelines have been repeatedly attacked by Islamic militants or disgruntled tribesmen since the anti-government protests created a power vacuum in 2011.
Reporting by Mohamed Mukhashaf; Writing by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Robin Pomeroy