Al-Qa’ida militants set off car bombs and launched co-ordinated attacks on Yemeni military barracks in three different locations in a southern province yesterday, killing at least 38 troops and wounding dozens of others, a military official said.
The attacks were the largest since a US-backed military offensive last year routed militants from significant swathes of territory they had seized during Yemen’s 2011 political turmoil.
The simultaneous attacks at 6am in the southern province of Shabwa, a one-time al-Qa’ida stronghold, caught the soldiers unprepared. The militants targeted three military encampments, two of them in the town of al-Mayfaa, and the third miles away, in the al-Ain area.
Yesterday’s attacks came just days after Yemeni authorities warned of more al-Qa’ida attacks and suicide bombings. Al-Qa’ida-linked militants took advantage of the political unrest in Yemen following the 2011 uprising against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to reinforce their presence in the country’s mostly lawless south and step up attacks.
In a major offensive backed by the American military, Yemen’s army was able to regain control of large parts of the south last year. Al-Qa’ida militants were forced out but remain scattered in different mountainous areas. AP