Over the weekend, fighters from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula staged a series of attacks throughout southern Yemen. The attacks, like previous operations carried out by AQAP, targeted military locations and personnel in the provinces of Baydha, Shabwa, and Abyan.
During the night between July 25 and 26, AQAP fighters attacked a security checkpoint at the northern entrance of the city of al Baydha in south central Yemen. A fierce battle ensued between Yemeni soldiers and AQAP fighters, resulting in the deaths of four soldiers and the wounding of two others. According to local military sources, the AQAP assailants set fire to a Yemeni military vehicle stationed at the checkpoint and then fled the scene. The Yemeni military immediately dispatched reinforcements to the area and began sweeping the mountainous region surrounding al Baydha.
On July 26, Yemeni security officials said that fighters suspected of being part of AQAP gunned down a military supply and logistics convoy in Shabwa province, killing a soldier named Mohammad Hamadi from Ta’iz and wounding another.
And on Sunday, July 27, AQAP attempted to carry out a coordinated attack with three car bombings in the town of Mahfad in Abyan province. Reports indicate that AQAP fighters planned to attack various military locations in the town, but two of the suicide bombers were unable to reach their targets and detonated prematurely. The third bomber detonated at the entrance to a military brigade base in the Hodhn area of Mahfad, located in the town center. A Yemeni journalist with contacts inside AQAP said the explosion took place inside the 39th brigade base. According to the journalist, AQAP announced that their fighters had taken complete control over a brigade during the operation in Mahfad. Two Yemeni soldiers were reported killed in the attack, along with 10 AQAP fighters.
Mahfad has long served as a stronghold for AQAP fighters, and they are thought to be still active in the area despite a US drone strike on an AQAP training camp in Mahfad in April and the ongoing Yemeni offensive to rout out AQAP from Yemen’s southern provinces. AQAP had remained entrenched in the Al Mahfad area following several previous Yemeni military operations that attempted to dislodge the terror group.