Al-Qaeda militants attacked two military posts in southern Yemen on early Monday morning, killing at least 28 soldiers and capturing others, security sources said. It comes just a day after a U.S. drone strike in Yemen killed a senior al-Qaeda operative.
The attack happened during the early morning hours on Monday when a number of al-Qaeda militants stormed two military posts in Abyan Governorate, killing at least 28 soldiers and capturing 25 others. "The attackers managed to take equipment, ammunition and several military vehicles of the Yemeni army before they fled," a security source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The source said the attack was likely in retaliation of a U.S. drone strike in southeast Yemen on Sunday which resulted in the death of senior al-Qaeda operative Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso. Several other suspected militants were also killed in the strike, which took place in Shabwah Governorate.
Al-Quso, 37, was previously indicted by the United States over his alleged role in the October 12, 2000, bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, killing 17 sailors and injuring 39 others. He was arrested by Yemeni authorities in April 2003 but escaped from prison soon after. He was recaptured about 11 months later, convicted by a Yemeni court and then released in 2007 despite U.S. protests.
Al-Qaeda's media arm As-Sahab confirmed the death of al-Quso, who was a senior operative for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The top militant had been reported killed on several occasions in recent years, but those reports were never confirmed by either al-Qaeda or the governments involved.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has orchestrated high-profile attacks since 2009, is based primarily in the tribal areas outside of the Yemeni capital city Sanaa, which remain outside the control of the Yemeni government. But the United States and Yemen have been cooperating to combat the militants.
Most notably, AQAP sent Nigerian-born Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who attempted to detonate an explosive device aboard a Northwest Airlines flight on December 25, 2009. This was the first attempted U.S. homeland attack by an al-Qaeda affiliate since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.