Three al Qaeda militants were reported killed yesterday while setting up a car as a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED). According to tribal sources, the explosion occurred near the house of an al Qaeda commander in the city of Habban in Shabwa province. Yemeni security forces were able to identify the three militants killed and said that two were Yemeni and one was a Saudi national.
Yemeni security sources reported that the blast occurred in the yard of al Qaeda commander Yasser al Marouh, whose house was severely damaged by the blast. They could not confirm whether he was present when it happened, however. They also reported that two bystanders were injured by the explosion and were rushed to Azzan Hospital in the province. One additional bystander was killed.
Sources in the Yemeni security services told Arabic news outlets that they assumed the VBIED was being set up for use in an operation targeting Yemeni military or security personnel. They stated that Shabwa, Hadramawt, Abyan, and Baydha provinces have been battlegrounds for an open war between al Qaeda and Yemeni security personnel that has lasted for over two years and caused the deaths of hundreds.
AQAP is known to operate in Shabwa, where the explosion yesterday occurred. Between May 2011 and May 2012, most of the province was under AQAP control .