22 Yemeni soldiers killed in Al-Qaeda attack
ABYAN — It is reported that more than 22 soldiers have been killed in an attack carried out by Ansar Al-Sharia on two military position belonging to the 115th Brigade in the Dofes and Alkood areas of Abyan governorate on Monday morning.
Ansar Al-Sharia militants launched an assault on the second infantry battalion and the artillery battalion of 115th Brigade commanded by Ali Haidarah Al-Hanshi, who indicated that the dawn attack was abrupt and came from different sides. Machine guns, mortar shelling and R.P.Gs were used in the attack, a security source told the Yemen Times.
He further said that the bodies of soldiers were scattered on the battlefield, and due to heavy shooting, they were not able to collect them. The source confirmed that Ansar Al-Sharia was accompanied by cars equipped with loud-speakers, which they used to call on the soldiers to "set free our captives." They also threatened the soldiers with death if they refused to withdraw from their positions and refused to hand over all their weapons. Ansar Al-Sharia managed to capture almost 30 soldiers.
He noted that Ansar Al-Sharia gunmen are of different nationalities, including Afghans, Somalis, Saudis and Iranians.
A source in the Ministry of Defense said that the soldiers were able to repel the attack, which resulted in the death of several members of Ansar Al-Sharia fighters, confirming that they escaped immediately after the attack.
Ansar Al-Sharia said that their attack, which they called “If you return we will,” came in response to a statement made by President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi at the beginning of this week, in which he threatened to wage a war against Al-Qaeda. Subsequent reports indicated the arrival of U.S Marines deployed to fight Ansar Al-Sharia in Abyan province at Al-Anad military base in Lahaj governorate.
In a report issued by Ansar Al-Sharia, they claim to have killed 30 soldiers, captured 28 others, and seized heavy weapons, including anti-aircraft guns, three military vehicles, six machine guns, four missiles and various ammunition. They also burned two tanks.
The attack took place just one day after the U.S killed Fahad Al Gas'a, a leading figure in Al-Qaeda, in a US drone strike in the area of Rafad in Shabwah governorate.
Fahad Al Gas'a was on the FBI's most wanted list for his role in the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden's harbor in 2000, in which 17 American Marines were killed.
Al-Gas'a had survived five assassination attempts by the US, most recently in August 2011.
Early this past March, Ansar Al-Sharia militants launched a similar attack on a military position in the region of Dofes, which resulted in the death of more than 100 Yemeni soldiers, in addition to the capture of 73 others, who were set free a week ago.
Fahd Alqasa, also known as Abu Hothaifah, was born in 1976 in Aden, Yemen.
The United States accused him of being involved in the USS Cole Destroyer bombing in 2000, which resulted in the death of 17 American sailors.
The Yemeni government arrested Alqasa in 2000 and sentenced him to seven-year imprisonment in the Political Security Prison in Aden. He managed to break out of the prison in April 2003, but was recaptured in 2004 and remained in prison until he finished his sentence in 2007. His ultimate release, by judicial decision, raised concerns with the American administration.
On December 7, 2010, United states listed Fahd Alqasa as a global terrorist, which placed him on the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) most-wanted list.
FBI headquarters had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture for his involvement in the USS Cole bombing.
Alqasa ranked three after the deceased Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al- Zwaheri on the US capture-or-kill list. Alqasa had survived five assassination attempts, four of which were carried out in Shabwa governorate and one in Afghanistan, all by US drones.
On May 6, Alqasa was assassinated by a US drone strike in the town of Rafad in Shabwa, east Yemen.