Tuesday, March 6, 2012

South Yemen: more than 100 soldiers killed, 55 captured

Sneaking across the desert behind army lines, al-Qaida militants launched a surprise attack against military bases in south Yemen, killing 107 soldiers and capturing heavy weapons they later used to kill more troops, officials said on Monday. Military officials said also at least 32 of the militants were killed in Sunday's fighting in Abyan province, and scores were wounded on both sides.
The military officials said the militants' surprise attack outside Abyan's provincial capital Zinjibar also led to the capture of 55 soldiers. The captives were paraded on the streets of Jaar, a nearby town that, like Zinjibar, has been under al-Qaida's control for about a year.
 They stormed a military base in Zinjibar, the provincial capital of Abyan, and infiltrated into the Joint Artillery Tanks battalion based in Dowvas vally, Abyan. They exploited the negligence in the base as some of the military personnel were out, and managed to take control of rocket launchers, armored vehicles, mortars, and machine guns, according to the Yemen Post.
The attack coincided with the transfer of leadership of the Southern military region from Major general Mohdi Maqula to the newly-appointed commander Major General Salem Ali Qatan.
Al-Qaeda elements used the bad weather to execute their attacks. Because of clouds and sand storms US unmanned drones, which usually monitor the movements of the islamists in the area, were unable to operate, Ahmed Mohammed Saleh, a military analyst, told the Yemen Post. Aanalysts and military experts don't rule out that there was collusion between the Islamists and the brigades' former leadership as  it was impossible for a group of militants with light weapons to infiltrate into a military base and cause this kind of bloodbath.

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