Aden intelligence HQ attack kills at least 18 |
Gulf Times - 19 August, 2012
Suspected Al Qaeda-linked militants killed at least 18 Yemeni soldiers and security guards yesterday in a car bombing and grenade attack on the intelligence service headquarters in Aden, the defence ministry and witnesses said.
The ministry said more bodies were believed buried under the rubble of the building, part of which was levelled in the attack in the southern port city. At least seven others were wounded before the militants fled.
The US has been pouring aid into Yemen to stem the threat of attacks from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and to try to prevent any spillover of violence into neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Last year, a US-backed offensive drove Al Qaeda offshoot Ansar Al Shariah (Partisans of Islamic Law) from cities they had seized in an uprising against the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
But Islamist militants have carried out deadly suicide bombings on high-profile military and security targets since June, exposing the government’s vulnerability.
In yesterday’s attack, witnesses said militants had fired rocket-propelled grenades at the intelligence service’s three-storey building, shattering windows and setting it on fire.
“The operation seemed to have been well planned,” a local security source said. He said he believed the attackers belonged to Al Qaeda.
He said the militants had stopped their vehicle in front of an adjacent five-storey television building, blown up a military vehicle guarding the compound, and then attacked the intelligence service building with automatic fire and rocket-propelled grenades before fleeing.
The defence ministry said the militants had also detonated a car bomb next to the building, destroying part of it. Security sources put the death toll at 18.
The ministry earlier said all the casualties were members of the intelligence service and the Central Security forces, which guard the nearby television offices.
Ashraf Ali Ahmed, who lives in the area, said a loud explosion had shaken the area, followed by smaller blasts. “The blasts woke up the neighbourhood from their sleep,” he said.
In July, militants attacked a police academy in Sanaa, assassinating the commander of the southern region, and trying to kill the commander of a tribal force allied with the army.
Washington has responded to the series of attacks by stepping up its drone strikes on AQAP, which was behind several failed attacks on the US, including an attempt to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009.
l A southern secessionist leader who was arrested upon arrival in Aden from Britain yesterday said he had been released by the security forces.
Ahmed Abdullah al-Hassani had been living abroad but Yemeni media reported last week that he was planning to return to meet other leaders of the southern secessionist movement in Aden, the capital of the former state of South Yemen.
He was then seized by a group of armed men who boarded the plane to arrest him, other separatist politicians said.
He told Reuters he had been released late yesterday evening.
North and south Yemen unified in 1990 when the collapse of the Soviet Union undermined the communist south’s economy, but political harmony was short lived and an attempted southern secession in 1994 prompted a brief civil war, won by the north.
Southern Yemenis have since complained of discrimination and an unequal division of national resources, and secessionist sentiment, aiming to build a socialist state, was spurred by the mood of popular protest that swept the Arab world last spring.