|Suicide attacks targetting security forces have intensified since President Hadi, took office in February [EPA]|
Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the Yemeni president, has sacked two military chiefs close to his predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh, according to the official SABA news agency.
Air force chief General Mohamed Saleh al-Ahmar, Saleh’s half-brother, and head of the presidential guard General Tarek Mohamed Abdullah Saleh, his nephew were both fired, SABA cited a presidential decree as saying on Friday.
Hadi also fired nearly 20 top officers of old-regime loyalists in a major shake-up of the country’s military, but left Saleh’s son, nephew and other allies in place as heads of important military units.
The shake up comes amid concerns that Saleh was using the loyalists to destabilise the country.
A statement from Hadi’s office says four governors and over a dozen military generals were sacked to make way for new officials.
It is a significant blow to the former President, who had clung to power during last year’s uprising until he eventually signed a US-backed power transfer deal.
Earlier on Friday, a suicide bomber blew up a motorbike near intelligence offices in eastern Yemen, without causing casualties.
That attack came after an aborted attack in the south, when two bombers died as their payload exploded short of their intended target, the defence ministry said.
The attack in the south was claimed by Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, the self-proclaimed Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law).
The group has exploited a decline in central government control that accompanied Arab Spring-inspired protests that eventually forced president Ali Abdullah Saleh to cede power.
Suicide attacks targetting security forces have intensified since his successor, Hadi, took office in February, vowing to continue the US-backed fight against Al-Qaeda.
But critics of Saleh say he has been interfering in the smooth transition of power, and the reorganisation of the army is seen as being a key part of that transition.