The AP via USA Today reported earlier today that al-Qaeda militants in Yemen launched a coordinated attack on a military barracks in the southern part of the country called Shabwa province. 38 soldiers were killed in the attacks and dozens of others were wounded.
Yemeni defense official Maj. Mohammed Nasser, speaking about the attacks, said that the soldiers were caught unprepared, and that Shabwa Province is widely known to be an al-Qaeda stronghold. The attacks began as militants tried to storm three military encampments in Maysaa, Kamp, and al-Ain. At Kamp, the guards outside the barracks were overpowered and a suicide car bomb was driven inside; most of the casualties occurred when this first bomb detonated.
At al-Ain, ground-based infantry fighting was continuing to occur throughout the morning, and a second car bomb was detonated outside the barracks.
The attack seems to have had a dual purpose: Nasser reported that although the militants lost eight jihadists in the assault, they gained six hostages in the form of seized soldiers and five unspecified military vehicles.
Yemeni authorities have been waging war against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, because officials in Washington consider it to be the deadliest and most dangerous offshoot of the al-Qaeda brand. AQAP has recently been orchestrating a series of attacks on the military and has claimed responsibility for the assassinations of a variety of officials.
These latest attacks are the largest yet made against the Yemeni military, and they come in the wake of warnings from Sanaa that more al-Qaeda attacks are on the way. In response to the continued attacks on Yemeni security forces, the United States stepped up the drone war efforts.
The AP also reported that the AQAP franchise had claimed responsibility for several foiled bomb plots against US citizens, including one involving an underwear bomb on an airline and another plot to hide mail bombs in toner printer cartridges.[Image via a brief YouTube video of an Al-Jazeera report on AQAP]