Over the past 24 hours, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed credit for at least four separate attacks targeting both the Yemeni military and the Shiite Houthi rebels, who have recently taken control of much of the capital of Sana’a. The attacks took place in Shabwa, Marib, and Baydha provinces and resulted in the deaths of over 20 Yemenis.
AQAP’s initial attack yesterday targeted Yemeni soldiers as they drove a truck full of food aid along the road connecting the towns of Gol al Raydah and Rudhoum in the Mayfa’a region of Shabwa province. According to the AQAP statement released later in the day, the terrorist group’s fighters drove alongside the truck before opening machine gun fire on the eight Yemeni soldiers on board. AQAP claimed that five soldiers were killed and three others were wounded as a result of the attack. Additionally, the statement boldly claimed that the group’s attacks on military personnel and facilities in the Mayfa’a region of Shabwa have claimed the lives of over 50 Yemeni soldiers in about a month.
The remainder of AQAP’s attacks yesterday specifically targeted the Shiite Houthi rebels who have been consolidating their power in Sana’a for over a week. AQAP has called for an open war against the Houthi rebels and has simultaneously been using the current chaos in the country to stage attacks outside of its traditional power base in southern Yemen.
Yesterday’s second attack took place during the afternoon in the Majzar region of Marib, when an AQAP suicide attacker targeted the al Jafra Hospital with a suicide vehicle-borne explosive device (SVBIED or suicide car bomb).
In a statement released on Twitter by an AQAP-affiliated account, the group claimed credit for the attack in Marib and identified the suicide bomber as Abu Jandal al Sana’ani. The statement said that the al Jafra Hospital was the target of the operation as “the Houthis have transformed it into a headquarters for them, after it had served as a public benefit to Muslims of the region.” The statement went on to say that “the mujahideen’s targeting of the Houthi gathering in al Jafra points to its strategic importance to [the Houthis],” who allegedly use the hospital as a gathering point for fighters in the region.
The AQAP statement, as well as local media coverage, confirms that tens of people were killed and injured in the Marib attack. The AQAP release also points out that the Houthis suffered material losses from the suicide operation, including the destruction of four trucks, three armored vehicles, and two armored Humvees.
Yesterday evening, AQAP continued targeting the Houthi rebels by staging an ambush on a strategic road in al Baydha province in central Yemen. An AQAP statement regarding the attack said that its fighters conducted the attack along the road linking the city of Baydha to Rada’. At seven o’clock, a red Vitara car carrying Houthi rebels passed by the ambush location as it was leaving Baydha when AQAP fighters “rained a barrage of bullets” on the car “leading to the deaths of those that were on board.” AQAP claimed that six Houthis were killed and that their vehicle was burned before the jihadists safely withdrew.
About three hours later, AQAP fighters staged yet another ambush along the same road, this time about three hundred meters from the Hayd al Samaa checkpoint manned by the Yemeni military, according to an additional AQAP statement. This time, the jihadists stopped a Houthi vehicle and asked passengers for their identification and reason for travel. When the Houthi passengers replied that they had come from Rada’ to collect the bodies of their companions killed in the earlier ambush, the AQAP fighters opened fire at the vehicle immediately.
The AQAP statement claims that the group’s fighters killed most of the vehicle’s passengers before the driver sped off and drove off a cliff, killing any survivors. As a result, AQAP says that “we could not count their numbers [i.e. casualties] in an accurate manner.”
The following pictures from the first AQAP ambush in Baydha were posted to Twitter by an AQAP-affiliated account: