100 Yemeni troops killed by al-Qaeda

100 Yemeni troops killed by al-Qaeda

100 Yemeni troops killed by al-Qaeda

Al-Qaeda insurgents man a checkpoint at the entrance of the southern Yemeni city of Zinjibar. Clashes between insurgents and military leave at least 100 dead in total. REUTERS photo

More than 100 Yemeni soldiers have been killed in clashes with suspected al-Qaeda gunmen after the extremists attacked military positions in Yemen’s Abyan province, medics said yesterday.

March 4’s assault was one of the single deadliest against Yemeni troops, and the latest in a spate of attacks against security forces since President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi pledged to destroy the militant group in last month’s inauguration speech.

A medical official at the military hospital in the southern port city of Aden, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said “the death toll... has risen to at least 103” soldiers. A military official, who also declined to be identified, said al-Qaeda militants were responsible for the “surprise attack,” adding “it was a massacre.” Militants also took another 55 troops hostage during the attack. The captives were paraded late March 4 through the streets of Jaar, a nearby town that has been under al-Qaeda’s control for nearly a year. Militants seized control of Zinjbar in May and Jaar the previous month as security officials were focused on putting down a rebellion against longtime leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Military officials said 28 militants also died in the fighting and scores were wounded on both sides. The officials said the militants attacked the army bases outside Zinjibar from behind, taking the troops by complete surprise.

Middle East,