The clashes stemmed in part from attempts to suspend qat sales in southern governorates to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19
Clashes between Second Giants Brigade and Security Belt Forces in Lahj leave 2 dead, 7 injured
Two officers from the Security Belt Forces (SBF) were killed Monday afternoon in clashes with the Second Giants Brigade in Lahj governorate, according to a local council member who was not authorized to speak to the press. Seven people were injured in the clashes, according to the government official.
Clashes started when the SBF and Lahj security forces chased a motorcycle driver that flew past a security checkpoint on a road leading to Aden. On Saturday, the Southern Transitional Council (STC) banned the selling of qat in areas under control.
Security forces suspected the driver had qat and gave chase, leading them to fire towards a previously abandoned building where soldiers from the Second Giants Brigade were stationed. The building is located near the home of Brigadier Hamdi Shukri Al-Subaihi, the leader of the Second Giants brigade, in Al-Fiosh, the entrance to Lahj from Aden governorate.
The source told Almasdar Online that the security forces of Lahj and the SBF fired indiscriminately on the building to force the biker out, and their bullets hit a soldier in the Second Giants Brigade, as well as the home of Al-Subaihi.
According to the source, soldiers of the Second Giants Brigade, with reinforcements led by Al-Subaihi’s brother, then opened fire on the Lahj security units and the SBF.
In addition to the dead and injured, about 45 soldiers from the SBF were captured during the clashes, the source said, which later led to the withdrawal of the Lahj security forces and SBF from the site.
The Giants Brigade forces, most of whom belong to the Al-Subaiha tribes, reportedly captured a number of medium-range weapons during the clashes, as well as seven military vehicles.
Though clashes erupted following the pursuit of a motorcycle driver believed to be smuggling qat, the military source told Almasdar Online that tensions were already running high Monday between the STC’s Security Belt Forces and the Al-Subaiha tribes.
The tensions stemmed from a Sunday raid on the home of Deputy Minister of Technical Education and Vocational Training Abdrabbuh Al-Mahwali Al-Subaihi by STC-aligned forces of the Aden Security Department. The forces arrested guards securing the deputy minister’s home and confiscated one of his vehicles.
Editing by Ahlam Mohsen and Casey Coombs