Al-Qaeda kills 30 in retaliation strike

Al-Qaeda kills 30 in retaliation strike

ADEN - Agence France-Presse
Al-Qaeda kills 30 in retaliation strike

Pro-government tribesmen stand guard against al-Qaeda forces in Yemen. REUTERS photo

Al-Qaeda gunmen yesterday launched spectacular attacks on two army posts in south Yemen, killing at least 30 soldiers, apparently to avenge the death of a top militant in an air raid, a military official said.

Jihadists attacked the military posts outside the city of Zinjibar, which they have controlled since May last year, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Four officers were among those killed, he said.

At least 40 soldiers were wounded in the attack, the official and medical sources said. A spokesman for Ansar al-Sharia, an al-Qaeda-linked group that took Zinjibar last year, said his side captured 28 soldiers and a tank in the raid. Dozens of militants took part in the attack, some of whom arrived by sea. A medic in the neighboring town of Jaar, which is also controlled by al-Qaeda, said 16 militants were killed in the gunfights around Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province, and their bodies were evacuated to Jaar.

The attacks came after Yemeni al-Qaeda leader Fahd al-Quso, who was wanted in connection with the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, was killed in an air strike in eastern Yemen on May 6. The October 2000 attack on the U.S. Navy destroyer, the USS Cole, in Yemen’s port of Aden killed 17 sailors and wounded 40 more.

Quso was killed when two missiles slammed near his home in Rafadh, east of Ataq, the provincial capital of Shabwa province, a tribal chief said, adding that two of the suspect’s bodyguards were also killed in the raid. Quso’s name figured on an FBI list of most wanted terrorists, along with a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest.

“They attacked our positions in retaliation for the killing of Fahd al-Quso,” said a military official.