Al Qaeda militants have attacked Yemeni military bases in the southern part of the country. As a result, 107 soldiers have died, as well as 32 members of the terrorist organization. The attacks happened in the Abyan province and the death toll is believed to be the highest in skirmishes fought against al Qaeda.
The al Qaeda militants were able to sneak behind the army lines and it appears that the attacks were in retaliation for Yemen’s new president promising to fight the group. Al Qaeda is believed to have its strongest base in Yemen and President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi told a visiting diplomat from Britain that the Yemen army would continue to fight al Qaeda until they are gone.
Fifty-five Yemen soldiers were captured, as well. They were paraded through the streets of Jaar, which has been under the control of al Qaeda for over a year. The capital of the Abyan province, Zinjibar, is also controlled by al Qaeda. The two cities were seized last year when the country’s security officials were focusing on stopping the uprising against former President Saleh.
The attacks by al Qaeda over the weekend led to massive protests in Aden, which is the second largest city in the country. The protestors want Major General Mahdi Maqoula on trial because of his suspectedcollaborating with al Qaeda. Maqoula is the commander of in the Yemeni Army tasked with leading an armored battalion stationed outside of Zinjibar.
The al Qaeda militants seized a number of artillery pieces, armored vehicles, rockets, and assault rockets. Some of the weapons that they seized were later used against the Yemeni soldiers. Those weapons were taken from the 31st armored battalion, which is the one that Maqoula commanded.
Al Qaeda used “booby trapped vehicles” to start the attack. According to a statement by the Yemen Defense Ministry, the militant group was ab