Published — Saturday 21 September 2013
Last update 21 September 2013 7:11 am
SANAA: Suspected militants have killed at least 56 soldiers and police in a wave of dawn attacks.
The assaults came in the southern province of Shabwa, AFP reported.
Military and government officials said there were four attacks in all, including one on a key gas export terminal that was foiled.
The offensive came a month after officials said militant plans to attack oil and gas terminals had been scuppered following intelligence eavesdropping on a call from the terror group’s overall chief, Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
Thirty-eight soldiers were killed in Friday’s deadliest single attack, on an army camp responsible for ensuring security at Shabwa oilfields, the sources said.
“Troops clashed with gunmen at the camp entrance, before a suicide attacker in a bomb-laden vehicle forced his way into the camp where his car exploded, killing 38 soldiers,” a government official in Ataq, the provincial capital, told AFP.
Military sources confirmed the toll.
Simultaneously, “a suicide bomber in a car blew himself up before reaching his target — an army checkpoint” in the nearby Al-Nushaima area, a military official said, adding that 10 soldiers were killed in that blast.
“Soldiers were captured” in Al-Nushaima, witnesses told AFP by phone.
Around 15 km away, gunmen targeted a special forces camp at Maifaa, killing eight policemen, military sources told AFP. At least eight militants, among them two suicide bombers, were reported killed in the three attacks.
The defense ministry in Sanaa said a fourth Al-Qaeda attempt to detonate explosives targeting Balhaf gas terminal on the Gulf of Aden ended in failure.
Security Forces intercepted the vehicle which exploded, “killing the terrorists it was carrying,” said the ministry’s 26sep.net news website, without specifying how many militants died.
According to Zaid Al-Salami, a Yemeni specialist on Islamist groups, Al-Qaeda “has exploited the political crisis in Sanaa and differences over the results of the national dialogue” to strengthen its presence in Shabwa.