News24

Yemen vows fight as Qaeda claims blast

2012-05-21 20:43

Sana'a - Yemen's president vowed Monday to press on with his government's "war on terror" regardless of the sacrifices, as al-Qaeda claimed it was responsible for a suicide bombing that killed 96 troops.

"The war on terror will continue until it is completely destroyed regardless of the sacrifices," Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi said in a statement carried by state news agency Saba.

His remarks came hours after a Yemeni soldier detonated explosives under his uniform in the middle of an army battalion in the capital Sana'a, killing 96 troops and wounding around 300.

The Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack which it said targeted "the defence minister and other leaders of the US war on our people in Abyan" province in the south.

"Even if the defence minister [Mohammed Nasser Ahmed] and his aides escaped this operation, we will not tire... we are in a war to defend our blood which is violated in Abyan, and war only breeds war," it said in a statement posted on jihadist internet forums.

Yemen's army launched an offensive on May 12 to retake al-Qaeda towns and cities held by extremists across Abyan. According to an AFP tally, 158 al-Qaeda fighters have been killed in the battles.

Western diplomats in Sana'a say that US experts have been advising the Yemeni army in combat.

"We remind the collaborators leading the army and security forces in Yemen that the US war in Abyan in which American and Saudi planes kill our women and children will not take place while you are safe in Sana'a. We will take out revenge," AQAP said.

"The flames of war will reach you wherever you are and what happened [Monday] is only the beginning of the road in jihad," it added.

The extremists had taken advantage of a weakening central government in Sana'a following a year-long uprising that brought Hadi to power.

Hadi offered his condolences to the families of troops killed in the blast and the fighting in Abyan as well as to those of local militiamen fighting alongside the army in the south.

He also called for national dialogue in the country, which he must lead during his two-year interim rule, based on the Gulf-brokered plan by which he took power from former strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh.