The city of Aden and surrounding areas have been blanketed with strict security measures – including the presence of more than 50,000 Yemeni troops – in order to safeguard the Khaleeji 20 football championship.
Six Gulf countries in addition to Iraq and Yemen are participating in the event, which began on Monday (November 22nd) and continues through December 5th.
"The city of Aden is under a security alert on a scale that is unprecedented in any Yemeni city in the past, and is manifest in the participation of more than 50,000 troops deployed at the entrances and city centres of Aden and Abyan, in addition to security checkpoints installed in major thoroughfares, side-streets, and sports facilities where fans and stadium guests are searched manually and electronically," Director of Aden Security Abdullah Qairan told Al-Shorfa.
Qairan said that the Ministry of the Interior set up six security belts starting from the province of Lahj, which is adjacent to the province of Aden, and including Abyan province, with security elements focused intensely on intelligence to secure the championship.
"Security procedures were enhanced to secure and ensure the success of the championship and they are being implemented according to the plan developed in advance of the event," Qairan said. "Furthermore, the Security Operations Centre, which is under the direct supervision of the president of the republic, is operating 24 hours a day to monitor the situation via cameras deployed at town entrances and the streets of Aden and Abyan."
According to statistics compiled by Aden province, more than 17,000 cars belonging to fans from Arab Gulf states have entered the province. Security measures have been implemented to ensure the safety and security of participants in all ways possible.
"The strict security measures have put security personnel on full alert and in a high state of readiness to repel lawless elements," Abdul-Karim Shaif, deputy governor of Aden, told Al-Shorfa.
Minister of Youth and Sports and the chairman of the organising committee for the Khaleeji 20 Hmoud Abbad said in a statement to the media, "The tournament represents an exquisite human experience and wonderful communication between the Yemeni people and their brothers in the GCC and Iraq."
He added that Yemen seeks to win the trophy for excellent organisation and treatment of citizens and guests.
Despite the strict security, AFP reported that gunmen ambushed Yemeni soldiers in southern Yemen, killing one and wounding three others on Tuesday (November 23rd).
The news agency quoted an unnamed security source as saying that he does not rule out that the attackers were from al-Qaeda, which is active in that part of the country, especially in the Lawder area, which witnessed bloody clashes between Yemeni forces and al-Qaeda elements in recent months.
According to the source, the attack took place outside the security belt enforced by the authorities to protect the championship.