12 soldiers killed in Al Qaeda attack in Yemen

Sanaa, Jan 17: Al Qaeda militants killed 12 soldiers in attacks on a police station and two military posts in Yemen’s southeastern province of al-Bayda Thursday, a government official said.

“Two military posts and a police centre were attacked by a group of Al Qaeda gunmen who threw explosives into the sites manned by army soldiers and opened heavy gunfire. Fierce fighting is still ongoing,” Xinhua quoted a government official as saying.

The armed attack targeted two sites of the 139th Armoured Brigade in the eastern outskirts of al-Bayda’s provincial capital, which bears the same name, about 270 km south of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.

“Initial details show that there were heavy casualties. About 12 soldiers were killed and several others injured,” the official said.

A police officer said that the Al Qaeda militants invaded the 139th Armoured Brigade and launched coordinated attacks on the army’s artillery battalion in the city.

He said some high-ranking military personnel may have died in the attack.

“Our army troops supported by the Yemeni Air force are presently pursuing the terrorists in the region,” an intelligence source said without providing further details.

Residents said the coordinated attacks were carried out around noon by about 60 unknown gunmen.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, but militants of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda offshoot are usually behind such attacks and assassination attempts, mostly in the country’s southern regions.

The Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which emerged in January 2009, is considered as the most strategic threat to Yemen and its neighbour oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

IANS