Militant raids kill 31 in Yemen - Qaida behind attacks, say officials

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 21.09.13

Aden, Sept. 20 (Reuters): Suspected al Qaida militants killed at least 31 Yemeni soldiers and policemen in attacks in the south of the country today, their deadliest for more than a year, security officials said.

Twenty-one soldiers died when two car bombs exploded at a military camp in al-Nashama, near the coast, Yemen’s Supreme Military Council said, and 10 policemen were killed by gunmen in the inland town of Mayfaa.

A car bomb exploded near the country’s only liquefied natural gas export terminal at the coastal town of Balhaf, killing people inside the vehicle but not causing any other damage, sources added.

Officials believe members of al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) were behind the attacks, the security officials said.

AQAP is seen by western countries as one of the most dangerous branches of al Qaida because it has attempted to carry out bombings on international airlines.

US drone strikes have killed scores of AQAP members and the Yemeni army has seized back large tracts of territory from the insurgents, prompting the country’s foreign minister to call today’s attacks a sign of increasing desperation.

“This attack was intended to demonstrate that they are still there. But it’s also a demonstration that they are losing the war against the security and stability of Yemen,” the minister, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, said.

Ali al-Sarary, an aide to Yemen’s Prime Minister, said the attacks were aimed at thwarting the reconciliation efforts of a “national dialogue” set up between rival factions after a popular uprising in 2011.

“The main goal is to foil a political settlement and prevent the national dialogue from reaching solutions on a number of issues, particularly issues in the south,” he said.

Maintaining stability in impoverished Yemen is a priority for Washington and Gulf states because of its location next to major oil shipping routes and Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter.