Thursday, July 22, 2010

DTN News: Five Yemeni Soldiers Killed In Qaeda-Style Ambush

Defense News: DTN News: Five Yemeni Soldiers Killed In Qaeda-Style Ambush
Source: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) SANAA, Yemen - July 23, 2010: Suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen on Thursday ambushed a Yemeni army patrol under cover of darkness in the mountainous east of the country, killing five soldiers and wounding one, a security official told AFP.
The attack on an army vehicle took place in Ataq, capital of Shabwa province, a stronghold of radical cleric and key leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Anwar al-Awlaqi.
The cleric was added last Friday to a US list of terrorism supporters.
"Five soldiers were killed and the sixth was injured in ... Shabwa in an armed attack by suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Yemen's ruling party's official website,, quoted Shabwa security chief General Ahmed al-Maqdashi as saying Al-Qaeda was to blame.
"Al-Qaeda elements in cooperation and coordination with subversive elements attacked an army patrol in the city of Ataq ... which resulted in the martyrdom of five and the injury of a sixth soldier," Maqdashi said.
Members of the separatist Southern Movement had supported the assailants who used "light and medium machine-guns," he said.
They escaped after the ambush "despite the massive presence of security forces in Ataq and checkpoints set up around the city," according to the security official.
The killings follow simultaneous attacks on July 14 by some 20 suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen on the intelligence and security service headquarters in the south Yemen town of Zinjibar in which three policemen were killed and 11 wounded.
Al-Qaeda has also claimed responsibility for a deadly June attack on the country's intelligence headquarters in the southern port city of Aden in which 11 people -- seven military personnel, three women and a seven-year-old boy -- were killed.
Shabwa along with the Abyan region in former South Yemen have become regrouping bases for Islamist militants, with a top US counter-terrorism official warning the country could be turned into base by Al-Qaeda for training and plotting attacks.
Among the heavily-armed tribes based in Shabwa is that of Awlaqi.
The radical cleric rose to prominence last year after it emerged he had communicated by email with Major Nidal Hasan, a US army psychiatrist accused of opening fire on colleagues at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13.
The imam has also been linked to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian student accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound flight with explosives in his underwear on December 25.
Yemen, the ancestral homeland of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and the impoverished nation has witnessed repeated attacks claimed by the jihadists on foreign missions, tourist sites and oil facilities.
Yemen's government has intensified its operations against AQAP since the attempted Christmas Day bombing of the US-bound airliner, after details emerged that the attacker was apparently trained and supplied by the group.
As well as the resurgence of Al-Qaeda, Yemen is in the grip of an economic crisis, a secessionist movement in the south, and the aftermath of a long-running Zaidi Shiite rebellion in the north.
A tribal official told AFP on Thursday that fighting overnight between the Shiite rebels and army-backed tribes in Yemen's north killed 20 people on both sides, raising the death toll in five days of fighting to over 69.
The Huthi rebels and the government have repeatedly exchanged accusations of violating a February ceasefire which ended a six-month round of bloody conflict between the two sides.

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