Qaeda claims Yemen attacks, plane blast

2012-03-07 20:50

Dubai - Al-Qaeda on Wednesday claimed responsibility for a string of attacks in Yemen, including an assault on soldiers that left scores dead in the southern province of Abyan and bombing of a military aircraft in Sanaa.

On Sunday, "the mujahedeen carried out a series of operations... against government forces deployed at the entrances of Zinjibar", capital of Abyan province, said the group's Yemeni branch.

The extremists claimed that "around 100 soldiers and officers were killed while 12 others were wounded and 73 held captive" in these attacks.

Military officials and medics had said 185 people were killed on Sunday when Islamist militants attacked a Yemeni army camp in Abyan province.

On the same day, "the mujahedeen blew up a Yemeni air force military plane in Dulaimi army base that was transporting weapons to Aden and Hadramawt" provinces, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), said in a statement.

"The blast took place after [the militants] sneaked into the base and planted an explosive device in the plane," it said.

Security challenges

An airport technician had said at the time that a "mysterious" blast ripped through a Yemeni military plane at Dulaimi base, near Sanaa international airport, without causing any casualties.

In Wednesday's statement, AQAP claimed responsibility for several other attacks on security forces across the lawless south and southeast of the restive country.

The attacks, of which Sunday's was the deadliest, began after President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi took office on February 25, pledging in his inaugural speech to crackdown on the militants.

The violence highlights the security challenges facing Hadi as he tries to restore order and unify the country's armed forces, as stipulated by a Gulf-brokered transition accord that ended former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule.

State news agency Saba quoted Hadi on Tuesday as saying: "We are determined to confront terror with all our strength whatever the price. We will track them to their last hideout."